As the name implies, the electric violin bears the same relationship to the violin as an electric guitar does to an acoustic guitar. (See footnote.)
The electric violin dates back to 1935, in the form of the Rickenbacker Electro, an electrically amplified violin. It is now in use by a number of musicians; Jean-Luc Ponty is well-known for using synthesizers and funky effects to stretch the electric violin's sound.
SOURCE: Bowed Electricity, http://www.lightbubble.com/bowed/
FOOTNOTE: cbustapeck says:
For the most part (in my limited experience) electric violins do not have the same relationship to regular violins as electric guitars to acoustic guitars - most electric guitars rely entirely on the relationship of the strings to the pickups - the sound is not affected much by the body of the guitar, as it is on an acoustic guitar, where the sound box is integral. With the electric violins that I have seen, the sound box is integral, it significantly affects the sound. I know that there are some "electric/acoustic" guitars that rely on the sound box, but these are few and far between. I am not sure if this applies to all electric violins - it has just been the case with all those that I have seen.
, that's what I get for following conventional wisdom