Definition of harm in US English:

harm

noun

  • 1Physical injury, especially that which is deliberately inflicted.

    ‘it's fine as long as no one is inflicting harm on anyone else’
    • ‘If pain is inflicted without lasting physical harm, does that make it better or worse?’
    • ‘They knew that there was a very strong chance that the police would come in and remove them and, in that process, inflict physical injury or serious harm to a person.’
    • ‘The circumstances, the spokesman said, were that they had shown their ability to inflict harm and murder people.’
    • ‘He said that in some attempted murder cases the intended victim suffers no physical harm but here the victim had suffered appalling injuries.’
    • ‘He said: ‘The public were kept safe, and we prevented this unhappy young man from inflicting serious harm to himself.’’
    • ‘In particular as you will see, abuse and torture are widespread despite the prohibition by the constitution of infliction of physical harm upon those arrested or detained.’
    • ‘Do you think she'd inflict bodily harm on him?’
    • ‘However, what held her full attention now was the fact she was being surrounded by a group of men carrying various tools that could inflict harm on a person.’
    • ‘An assault is committed where a person inflicts bodily harm on another.’
    • ‘Police officers then arrived and arrested the offender, 19, on suspicion of causing actual body harm.’
    • ‘They did not have enough control to physically inflict harm on you, such as attacking with a weapon.’
    • ‘While he was not a violent person by nature, he knew that there was within him the potential to do harm to himself or to others.’
    • ‘I just wish it wasn't at the hands of the patrols and mercenaries who were determined that I not do anyone any physical harm.’
    • ‘Emphasize the importance of telling you and an adult at school whenever another kid or group of kids causes your child or anyone else physical harm.’
    • ‘There are still people out there who would like to inflict harm on our people.’
    • ‘It seems inconceivable that an operation that inflicts severe harm on women would continue to be practised wholesale, despite medical evidence of its potentially detrimental effects.’
    • ‘Like many of those who inflict harm on themselves - whether it's cutting, burning, starving or taking overdoses - her problems began in childhood.’
    • ‘In the first place, stiffer sentences need to be imposed on any person who stabs or inflicts bodily harm on another person.’
    • ‘Some contend that they don't meet the definition because they aren't directed at inflicting physical harm to people.’
    • ‘What explanation could there be for his noting on a piece of paper that he might want to inflict some harm upon himself, some injury upon himself?’
    injury, hurt, pain, suffering, distress, anguish, trauma, torment, grief
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Material damage.
      ‘it's unlikely to do much harm to the engine’
      • ‘With the various safeguards that could be achieved by way of conditions, I am satisfied that it would not result in any material harm to the living conditions of nearby residents.’
      • ‘Luckily for us this incident had caused no harm or any damage to the equipment.’
      • ‘These are just a few among many examples of how the evidence for harm from current air pollution levels is far weaker than ALA claims.’
      • ‘He added: ‘We investigate all reports of pollution and harm to the environment will result in prosecution.’’
      • ‘It has been published in on-line media such as Planet Ark that are accessed by the target consumers for our cheese, and thus may do us material harm.’
      • ‘No deaths or permanent harm resulted, but the nurses conclude that nearly 40% of the cases could have been fatal.’
      • ‘If their actions or protests involve harm or damage to personnel or equipment, then that action is much more serious than a protest.’
      • ‘He said the issue was whether the extra-high roof had caused material harm and the unanimous view of planning officers had been that it did not.’
      • ‘Participants were presented with four hypothetical scenarios in which a peer caused them harm, such as damage to their property.’
      • ‘Mrs Thelwell secured retrospective planning permission to put up a new staircase and partition wall at Sundial House as councillors accepted the work had not resulted in any material harm.’
      • ‘As well as property in Parkwood Rise, Ryan was banned from trying to enter any building on land within Bradford district with the intent to cause harm or damage.’
      • ‘They tend to lack good judgment but avoid intentional harm; significant property damage is common.’
      • ‘I make clear in para 562.55 that there is no objection in principle to the employment proposals and that the Link Road would ensure that no material harm was caused to the local highway network.’
      • ‘They are not usually considered to be an important part of the vehicle. However these bumpers somehow decrease harm and damage done to your car during any accidents.’
      • ‘CPC also claims for damages arising from harm caused to the roof of its plant by JDL in the course of its installation of the equipment.’
    2. 1.2 Actual or potential ill effect or danger.
      ‘I can't see any harm in it’
      • ‘Results from the women's health initiative trial have made clear that we need to be cautious about the long term effects as sometimes harms might surprisingly outweigh benefits.’
      • ‘What possible harm could this therapeutic effect have?’
      • ‘Over and above the cost and discomfort of the actual test, the most important potential harm is the risk of a false-positive result.’
      • ‘There's a huge amount of shame associated with causing harm to patients with an error, and it's not readily confessed.’
      • ‘We think it is important that drinkers are aware of larger measures and the potential harm of drinking too much.’
      • ‘Contrary to popular belief, taking HRT in non-tablet form does not protect one against either side effects or potential harm.’
      • ‘Because children are still developing, they are at a greater risk for potential harm from pesticide exposure, say experts.’
      • ‘Earplugs and other anti-radiation products may protect you from potential harm.’
      • ‘I would appreciate it if you could ask your readers to be aware of such scams as they have the potential for massive harm.’
      • ‘In reversing his position, Ashcroft told Mueller that the value of disclosing the information outweighs the potential harm to national security.’
      • ‘Patients who are well informed about prognosis and treatment options, including potential harms and side effects, are more likely to adhere to treatments and have better health outcomes.’
      • ‘Another misconception is that race-conscious admission policies somehow shame or harm underrepresented students of color.’
      • ‘Intravenous drug errors are a potential source of serious harm for patients and risk reduction strategies should be developed accordingly.’
      • ‘However, in the case of the U.S.-China textile trade, the U.S. imposed the measures before actual harm had taken place.’
      • ‘Two reports tonight highlight the Internet's potential for harm.’
      • ‘One should not risk potential harm to the client by abandoning the role of therapist for the potentially incongruent role of advocate.’
      • ‘Prof Barker said the team hoped to get to the truth of how much actual harm was caused by mobile phone use.’
      • ‘Once BW agents have fallen to the ground, these are not likely to cause harm in humans, unless through secondary ingestion of contaminated materials.’
      • ‘We accept that freedom of expression has the potential to cause harm to others.’
      • ‘The fact is that our legal system gives victims a tiny fraction of the actual harm caused to them by the negligence of others.’
      evil, badness, wrong, mischief, wrongdoing, immorality, ill, wickedness, vice, iniquity, sin, sinfulness, nefariousness
      View synonyms

verb

[with object]
  • 1Physically injure.

    ‘the villains didn't harm him’
    • ‘My grief worsened to the point where I stopped eating and began physically harming myself.’
    • ‘You do not have the right to physically harm other people.’
    • ‘To date, Korean authorities have failed to bring to justice any of the individuals who have physically harmed or threatened these soldiers.’
    • ‘Despite all these, if I ever hear again about you physically harming others, don't be surprised if the police come and arrest you for assault.’
    • ‘Disillusioned, Grace physically harms herself to override the emotional pain from inside.’
    • ‘Acceptable social behavior does not include physically harming another person or placing another child in the role of ‘victim.’’
    • ‘He had never been so tempted to physically harm someone out of anger alone.’
    • ‘There is no use fighting intolerance by physically harming someone.’
    • ‘For example, if a commercial statement misleads us about a drug's safety or an automobile's safety, we stand to be harmed physically.’
    • ‘This taxi driver became violent and physically harmed me.’
    • ‘At no time have I ever made threatening gestures or spoken words which would imply that I would physically harm anyone.’
    • ‘The teen was threatened, but not physically harmed although the attack left her traumatized, Thiessen said.’
    • ‘The robbers, both believed to be in their 20s, demanded cash and made off with £300 leaving the victim's shaken but not physically harmed.’
    • ‘Although the 62-year-old was not physically harmed, he was badly shaken by the time the police came to his rescue.’
    • ‘They may believe that they never physically harm anyone but in fact may cause serious psychological damage or pain.’
    • ‘An absolute right to freedom of expression neither physically harms anybody nor deprives them of their property.’
    • ‘Hunter had no business whatsoever in physically harming Lucas for protecting his younger sister.’
    • ‘Under my amendment, parents will still be able to smack their children if they don't harm them physically or mentally.’
    • ‘There has been particular concern that she would physically harm the child if allowed access.’
    • ‘Making suspects out of kids fails to decrease drug use and harms young people physically and emotionally.’
    injure, hurt, wound, maltreat, mistreat, misuse, ill-treat, ill-use, abuse, molest, inflict pain on, inflict suffering on, handle roughly, treat roughly, do violence to, lay a finger on
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Damage the health of.
      ‘smoking when pregnant can harm your baby’
      • ‘Alcohol consumption becomes a sin when it corrupts righteous thought or behavior, harms health, or violates any civil law.’
      • ‘However, she was unaware that she was misusing the antibiotic and that she could also be harming her health.’
      • ‘Researchers are discovering that chronic sleep deprivation harms health, promoting weight gain and diabetes and reducing immunity.’
      • ‘We want to prevent waste from damaging the environment and from harming human health.’
      • ‘‘I know I am harming my health, but there are so many people smoking around me, so the harm must be slight,’ said the boy while blowing out smoke.’
      • ‘Even with respect to mercury contamination, which was harming human health, the federal government has not honoured its treaty and constitutional obligations.’
      • ‘Environmentalists claim the waves were harming the health of local residents.’
      • ‘Late last month, fake milk powder caused the deaths of at least 12 babies in East China's Anhui Province and harmed the health of hundreds more.’
      • ‘Some workers who claim that their health has been harmed by tobacco smoke at work, are already suing employers for damages of up to 250,000.’
      • ‘The group announced a tie-up with law firm Thompsons as part of a campaign to urge workers who believed their health had been harmed by inhaling smoke to seek compensation.’
      • ‘Computers treated with certain flame retardants may be harming the health of those who use them.’
      • ‘The children's health was also harmed by cramped working conditions and the loud music, which was played with the intention of keeping them entertained.’
      • ‘The diet which builds up their titanic physiques also harms their health in the long term.’
      • ‘The woman ended up being seen in a hospital accident and emergency department with a tooth infection which, if untreated, could have harmed her own health and that of her unborn child.’
      • ‘Antibiotics might bring benefit to individuals with mild infections while harming public health by increasing microbial resistance.’
      • ‘Yet dozens of workers are absolutely sure that the building is harming their health, if not outright killing them.’
      • ‘I underwent extensive testing and luckily, I was healthy, but this scare was enough for me to realize that no weight-loss drug is worth harming my health.’
      • ‘This all stems from the radio this week as it was announced that parents who put their children on a strict vegan diet are harming their health.’
      • ‘One in five patients attending the Accident and Emergency department at Swindon's Great Western Hospital are drinking alcohol at a level that could be harming their health.’
      • ‘In short, why do those whose health has been harmed by pollution so rarely challenge the industries that they believe are responsible for it?’
    2. 1.2 Have an adverse effect on.
      ‘this could harm his Olympic prospects’
      • ‘Reintroducing college fees could harm the prospects of improved access to third level education, the head of Irish universities has warned.’
      • ‘But one of the reasons we protect our children, for example, is that we believe we would be devastated if they were harmed or killed.’
      • ‘The clinician's task is to not only avoid harming the child, but to also effect the best or ultimate good for the patient, all things considered.’
      • ‘In today's business climate - at least in the UK - displaying too much naked ambition can harm your career prospects, he says.’
      • ‘Taking five or eight or ten years off to get the kids started off right before they go to school is going to mean irreparably harming our prospects for advancement.’
      • ‘Some studies have concluded that mothers could be harming the educational prospects of their offspring by returning to work too early.’
      • ‘The return to a zero interest rate policy came after a concerted campaign by the government, which claimed its abandonment last August was harming the prospects for economic recovery.’
      • ‘Cunningham is popular with the party faithful, but party modernisers view her as too radical and fear that some of her views could be harming their electoral prospects.’
      • ‘Do we feed the hungry by developing higher-yielding crops, even if it might harm the Earth?’
      • ‘In a belated move, the education authorities decided to crack down on teaching practices that are harming the neutrality of education.’
      • ‘Too many new entrepreneurs harm their own prospects by underpricing their goods and services.’
      • ‘Bilingual education may actually be harming the prospects of many students who don't speak English.’
      • ‘The current barrage of solar storms pummeling Earth hasn't harmed power grids on our planet or damaged satellites, but it's generated a lot of buzz.’
      • ‘Any residues that rinse out in the water would easily harm vulnerable seedlings and ruin your crop.’
      • ‘Other reasons for not supporting a ban were that it would infringe people's rights and could harm business prospects.’
      • ‘The pressure of too much to learn in too many subjects carries with it the potential stigma of failure that can harm psychological welfare and undermine intellectual development.’
      • ‘Ironically, farmers have said that the pesticides have had no effect in preventing the deadly insects from harming the crop.’
      • ‘Britain cannot continue indefinitely to spend more than she is earning without higher taxes or higher interest rates - either of which will harm our economic prospects.’
      • ‘As long as experiments, research, and the use of its findings is properly used, we need have no fear that people will be harmed, either directly or by deleterious effects on society.’
      • ‘Activists feared attacks would only harm a population already devastated by two decades of war and famine.’
      injure, hurt, wound, maltreat, mistreat, misuse, ill-treat, ill-use, abuse, molest, inflict pain on, inflict suffering on, handle roughly, treat roughly, do violence to, lay a finger on
      View synonyms

Phrases

  • come to no harm

    • Be unhurt or undamaged.

      • ‘I swear to you that as long as I live, he will come to no harm.’
      • ‘The wedding cake, a large profiterole concoction, was flown to Inverness from Paris with top French patissier Eric Lanlard carrying it with him in the cabin to make sure it came to no harm.’
      • ‘We take extreme effort and care to make our products and want to do all we can to ensure that people come to no harm while enjoying them.’
      • ‘I've already warned you that while she's here she's to come to no harm.’
      • ‘Terms and conditions of filming are some of the most stringent in the region but several pre-production meetings are held to ensure the hall comes to no harm.’
      • ‘I am here to see that my friends come to no harm.’
      • ‘She thought that he looked about seven years old, and it was obvious that while his pride was hurt, physically he had come to no harm.’
      • ‘Even though they had assured him he would come to no harm, Special Branch had warned him last week that his name was on a death list.’
      • ‘Millions of women have benefited greatly from hormone replacement therapy and come to no harm.’
      • ‘I had promised Manuel's mother that he would come to no harm.’
  • do more harm than good

    • Inadvertently make a situation worse rather than better.

      • ‘He argued that England should abandon the whole concept of multiculturalism, since it was doing more harm than good.’
      • ‘But could full - body scans being doing more harm than good?’
      • ‘One of the houses was fitted with a glass roof in the 1930s to protect it from the elements, but experts are concerned this may be doing more harm than good.’
      • ‘I think that using humanitarian aid as ‘bait’ to get people ‘hooked’ on Christianity will probably end up doing more harm than good.’
      • ‘Dutch researchers say one-off debriefing sessions after traumatic events are not only ineffective, but could do more harm than good.’
      • ‘You may be doing more harm than good without even knowing it.’
      • ‘I am certain that an obsession with sport does more harm than good.’
      • ‘When a new music teacher arrives at a boarding school for orphans and troublesome boys, he realises the headmaster's harsh methods do more harm than good.’
      • ‘My guest tonight says free trade agreements that this is country is pursuing in Central and South America could, in fact, be doing more harm than good.’
      • ‘Public health also has a role in controlling the introduction of new screening methods which do not appear to beneficial, and which may in fact do more harm than good.’
  • no harm done

    • Used to reassure someone that what they have done has caused no real damage.

      • ‘‘I wasn't hurt and neither was Trigger, so there was no harm done,’ said the philosophical youngster.’
      • ‘That the team has recently been referred to as the Border Puppies by a few individuals is hurtful but if this criticism serves as extra motivation, than no harm done.’
      • ‘The elementary things are easy to think about; if you can't think of a new thought, no harm done; what you thought about it before is good enough for the class.’
      • ‘‘It's alright Emily, no harm done,’ he reassured me.’
      • ‘Something obviously slipped there but they both seemed to find it funny, no harm done.’
      • ‘Still, no harm done, and it should go down well with those voters willing to forgive a Christian premier's flexible interpretation of the sixth commandment.’
      • ‘Of course, if you miss these jokes, no harm done.’
      • ‘His therapist told him it was all standard teen stuff, and it would ‘pass, with no harm done to anyone’.’
      • ‘Aside from being a bit scared, there was no harm done and I got my money back.’
      • ‘Maybe he just didn't realize where I stood on the whole issue, and if that was the case then I would just have to straighten him out, no harm done.’
  • no harm, no foul

    • Used to indicate that a mistake or instance of misconduct should be excused because it has not caused damage.

      ‘strictly speaking it was petty trespassing, but no harm, no foul’
      • ‘Look, if everybody is happy with a deal, no harm, no foul.’
      • ‘And if it didn't work, then okay, try something different, no harm, no foul.’
      • ‘I always found a small pebble in my food but no harm, no foul.’
      • ‘I'm just messing with you a bit, no harm, no foul’
      • ‘The other threads are marked for deletion, no harm, no foul, all cleaned up.’
      • ‘You can get up and walk away afterwards, so there's no harm, no foul.’
      • ‘If they repent for what they've done, they are forgiven, no harm, no foul.’
      • ‘If I don't like the album, no harm, no foul: it gets deleted.’
      • ‘No harm, no foul, that is baseball: you hit our guy we hit yours.’
      • ‘They could have then been bought off with lucrative careers, no harm, no foul.’
  • out of harm's way

    • In a safe place.

      • ‘Maybe we should try and catch these beautiful beasts and put them in zoos where they are safe and out of harm's way.’
      • ‘Well, you're talking about millions trying to move out of harm's way and the fact the storm is moving very slowly.’
      • ‘In all those signs, you quickly go inland or you go up a high hill and try to get out of harm's way, just as your survivors talked about.’
      • ‘We want to get as many people out of harm's way as we possibly can.’
      • ‘Details of the trip were not released until the President had left and was in the air and out of harm's way.’
      • ‘They're continuing to move out of harm's way into safer regions of the state.’
      • ‘Cats, mostly, are sensible creatures and will keep themselves out of harm's way, learning the arts of road wisdom from an early age.’
      • ‘The return to Paris leaves him momentarily out of harm's way, but it is clear to him at least that war is coming.’
      • ‘Sunil's mother decided to send him out of harm's way to the United States to pursue higher education.’
      • ‘We're moving people out of harm's way, and we have resources on the ground to take care of both of those states.’
      protected from danger, protected from harm, free from danger, sheltered, shielded, guarded, unharmed, undamaged, safe and sound, safe, out of harm's way, in a safe place, in safe hands, invulnerable, immune, impregnable, unassailable
      View synonyms
  • do (someone) no harm

    • Used to indicate that a situation or action will not hurt someone, whether or not it will provide any benefit.

      ‘the diet of milk and zwieback certainly did him no harm’
      • ‘The heat of the sun did her no harm, and the gales and tempests held away from her and let her work in peace.’
      • ‘An old man has tired himself dancing and says: ‘A glass of whiskey will do us no harm after that.’’
      • ‘Another big game against Italy would do him no harm, even if 6ft 3in is tall for a specialist openside.’
      • ‘These animals do us no harm, and yet we inflict suffering and death upon millions and billions of them each year.’
      • ‘On checking them out, I found that I was mentioned in the article, which did me no harm at all!’
      • ‘However on reflection it did me no harm at all - having to find out everything for yourself is often the way to lasting knowledge.’
  • mean no harm

    • Not intend to cause damage or insult.

      ‘this was cruel, but they meant no harm by it’
      • ‘Be kind to the aging… they mean no harm and have nothing but love.’
      • ‘I am no expert in the law relating to this subject, but these people mean no harm to the building, that is plain to see.’
      • ‘Just to let you know we are peaceful and mean no harm, we are simply explorers.’
      • ‘I mean no harm to this family, I only wanted to relieve you of the burdens of running the family business.’
      • ‘They are noisy and animated - traits magnified by the confined space of the bus deck - but they mean no harm.’
      • ‘We mean no harm Sir; we only seek shelter from the storm.’
      • ‘I'm sure you mean no harm and just can't understand what I'm bothered about.’
      • ‘My apologies for any distress I've caused you missy, I mean no harm.’
      • ‘People are often intimidated by a gangs of youths standing together on a street corner, even when they mean no harm.’
      • ‘Many residents mean no harm to the bats, which are protected and important in nature for dispersing the seeds of indigenous trees.’

Origin

Old English hearm (noun), hearmian (verb), of Germanic origin; related to German Harm and Old Norse harmr ‘grief, sorrow’.

Pronunciation

harm

/härm//hɑrm/