a. Causing or intending to cause damage, injury, or death, often when involving great force: a violent car crash; a violent attack.
b. Characterized by or displaying physical violence: a violent past; a violent movie.
c. Caused by unexpected force or injury rather than by natural causes: a violent death.
d. Given to physical violence: a violent criminal.
a. Very forceful: the violent tossing of the ship by the waves; a violent squall.
b. Intense or extreme, especially in emotion: violent anger.
c. Characterized by extreme emotion, especially anger: a violent argument.
3. Vivid, as in brightness or saturation: violent colors.
4. Tending to distort meaning or intent: a violent interpretation of a text.
[Middle English, from Old French, from Latin violentus, from vīs, vi-, force; see weiə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.