Definition of harm in English:



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

    ‘it's fine as long as no one is inflicting harm on anyone else’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘He said that in some attempted murder cases the intended victim suffers no physical harm but here the victim had suffered appalling injuries.’
    • ‘Do you think she'd inflict bodily harm on him?’
    • ‘The circumstances, the spokesman said, were that they had shown their ability to inflict harm and murder people.’
    • ‘He said: ‘The public were kept safe, and we prevented this unhappy young man from inflicting serious harm to himself.’’
    • ‘Police officers then arrived and arrested the offender, 19, on suspicion of causing actual body harm.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In the first place, stiffer sentences need to be imposed on any person who stabs or inflicts bodily harm on another person.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Like many of those who inflict harm on themselves - whether it's cutting, burning, starving or taking overdoses - her problems began in childhood.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘If pain is inflicted without lasting physical harm, does that make it better or worse?’
    • ‘Some contend that they don't meet the definition because they aren't directed at inflicting physical harm to people.’
    • ‘An assault is committed where a person inflicts bodily harm on another.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They did not have enough control to physically inflict harm on you, such as attacking with a weapon.’
    • ‘There are still people out there who would like to inflict harm on our people.’
    • ‘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.’
    injury, hurt, pain, suffering, distress, anguish, trauma, torment, grief
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    1. 1.1Material damage.
      ‘it's unlikely to do much harm to the engine’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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 tend to lack good judgment but avoid intentional harm; significant property damage is common.’
      • ‘He added: ‘We investigate all reports of pollution and harm to the environment will result in prosecution.’’
      • ‘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 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Participants were presented with four hypothetical scenarios in which a peer caused them harm, such as damage to their property.’
    2. 1.2Actual or potential ill effect or danger.
      ‘I can't see any harm in it’
      • ‘Earplugs and other anti-radiation products may protect you from potential harm.’
      • ‘The fact is that our legal system gives victims a tiny fraction of the actual harm caused to them by the negligence of others.’
      • ‘In reversing his position, Ashcroft told Mueller that the value of disclosing the information outweighs the potential harm to national security.’
      • ‘Another misconception is that race-conscious admission policies somehow shame or harm underrepresented students of color.’
      • ‘I would appreciate it if you could ask your readers to be aware of such scams as they have the potential for massive harm.’
      • ‘What possible harm could this therapeutic effect have?’
      • ‘One should not risk potential harm to the client by abandoning the role of therapist for the potentially incongruent role of advocate.’
      • ‘We think it is important that drinkers are aware of larger measures and the potential harm of drinking too much.’
      • ‘Once BW agents have fallen to the ground, these are not likely to cause harm in humans, unless through secondary ingestion of contaminated materials.’
      • ‘There's a huge amount of shame associated with causing harm to patients with an error, and it's not readily confessed.’
      • ‘We accept that freedom of expression has the potential to cause harm to others.’
      • ‘However, in the case of the U.S.-China textile trade, the U.S. imposed the measures before actual harm had taken place.’
      • ‘Prof Barker said the team hoped to get to the truth of how much actual harm was caused by mobile phone use.’
      • ‘Because children are still developing, they are at a greater risk for potential harm from pesticide exposure, say experts.’
      • ‘Intravenous drug errors are a potential source of serious harm for patients and risk reduction strategies should be developed accordingly.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Contrary to popular belief, taking HRT in non-tablet form does not protect one against either side effects or potential harm.’
      • ‘Over and above the cost and discomfort of the actual test, the most important potential harm is the risk of a false-positive result.’
      • ‘Two reports tonight highlight the Internet's potential for harm.’
      • ‘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.’
      evil, badness, wrong, mischief, wrongdoing, immorality, ill, wickedness, vice, iniquity, sin, sinfulness, nefariousness
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  • 1 Physically injure.

    ‘the villains didn't harm him’
    • ‘My grief worsened to the point where I stopped eating and began physically harming myself.’
    • ‘He had never been so tempted to physically harm someone out of anger alone.’
    • ‘To date, Korean authorities have failed to bring to justice any of the individuals who have physically harmed or threatened these soldiers.’
    • ‘There is no use fighting intolerance by physically harming someone.’
    • ‘At no time have I ever made threatening gestures or spoken words which would imply that I would physically harm anyone.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The teen was threatened, but not physically harmed although the attack left her traumatized, Thiessen said.’
    • ‘They may believe that they never physically harm anyone but in fact may cause serious psychological damage or pain.’
    • ‘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.’’
    • ‘Under my amendment, parents will still be able to smack their children if they don't harm them physically or mentally.’
    • ‘This taxi driver became violent and physically harmed me.’
    • ‘Making suspects out of kids fails to decrease drug use and harms young people physically and emotionally.’
    • ‘There has been particular concern that she would physically harm the child if allowed access.’
    • ‘For example, if a commercial statement misleads us about a drug's safety or an automobile's safety, we stand to be harmed physically.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘You do not have the right to physically harm other people.’
    • ‘Although the 62-year-old was not physically harmed, he was badly shaken by the time the police came to his rescue.’
    • ‘Hunter had no business whatsoever in physically harming Lucas for protecting his younger sister.’
    • ‘An absolute right to freedom of expression neither physically harms anybody nor deprives them of their property.’
    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
    damage, spoil, mar, destroy, do mischief to, impair, deface, defile, blemish, tarnish, taint
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    1. 1.1Damage 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In short, why do those whose health has been harmed by pollution so rarely challenge the industries that they believe are responsible for it?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Environmentalists claim the waves were harming the health of local residents.’
      • ‘Yet dozens of workers are absolutely sure that the building is harming their health, if not outright killing them.’
      • ‘However, she was unaware that she was misusing the antibiotic and that she could also be harming her 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.’
      • ‘Computers treated with certain flame retardants may be harming the health of those who use them.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The diet which builds up their titanic physiques also harms their health in the long term.’
      • ‘We want to prevent waste from damaging the environment and from harming human 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.’
      • ‘Antibiotics might bring benefit to individuals with mild infections while harming public health by increasing microbial resistance.’
      • ‘Even with respect to mercury contamination, which was harming human health, the federal government has not honoured its treaty and constitutional obligations.’
      • ‘Researchers are discovering that chronic sleep deprivation harms health, promoting weight gain and diabetes and reducing immunity.’
    2. 1.2Have an adverse effect on.
      ‘this could harm his Olympic 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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Activists feared attacks would only harm a population already devastated by two decades of war and famine.’
      • ‘Other reasons for not supporting a ban were that it would infringe people's rights and could harm business prospects.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Do we feed the hungry by developing higher-yielding crops, even if it might harm the Earth?’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Too many new entrepreneurs harm their own prospects by underpricing their goods and services.’
      • ‘Ironically, farmers have said that the pesticides have had no effect in preventing the deadly insects from harming the crop.’
      • ‘In a belated move, the education authorities decided to crack down on teaching practices that are harming the neutrality of education.’
      • ‘Some studies have concluded that mothers could be harming the educational prospects of their offspring by returning to work too early.’
      • ‘Reintroducing college fees could harm the prospects of improved access to third level education, the head of Irish universities has warned.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Bilingual education may actually be harming the prospects of many students who don't speak English.’
      • ‘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.’
      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
      damage, spoil, mar, destroy, do mischief to, impair, deface, defile, blemish, tarnish, taint
      View synonyms


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