dam·​age | \ˈda-mij \

Definition of damage 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : loss or harm resulting from injury to person, property, or reputation flood damage sustained severe damage to her knee

2 damages plural : compensation in money imposed by law for loss or injury The judge awarded them $5,000 in damages.

3 : expense, cost "What's the damage?" he asked the waiter


damaged; damaging

Definition of damage (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to cause damage (see damage entry 1 sense 1) to don't damage the furniture returning soldiers damaged by war

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Other Words from damage


damageability \ ˌda-​mi-​jə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
damager noun

Choose the Right Synonym for damage


injure, harm, hurt, damage, impair, mar mean to affect injuriously. injure implies the inflicting of anything detrimental to one's looks, comfort, health, or success. badly injured in an accident harm often stresses the inflicting of pain, suffering, or loss. careful not to harm the animals hurt implies inflicting a wound to the body or to the feelings. hurt by their callous remarks damage suggests injury that lowers value or impairs usefulness. a table damaged in shipping impair suggests a making less complete or efficient by deterioration or diminution. years of smoking had impaired his health mar applies to injury that spoils perfection (as of a surface) or causes disfigurement. the text is marred by many typos

Examples of damage in a Sentence


The items were carefully wrapped to protect them from damage during shipping. The city sustained heavy damage during the war. Fortunately the boat suffered no serious damage in the storm. The fall caused considerable damage to her knee. The disease is known to cause permanent brain damage. The scandal caused significant damage to her career. You've said enough. Please leave before you do any more damage. He tried to repair the damage by apologizing, but it was too late. He apologized, but the damage was already done.


Please return any items that are damaged during shipping. Many homes were damaged or completely destroyed in the fire. The fall severely damaged her knee. Smoking can seriously damage your lungs. The scandal significantly damaged her career. This news will undoubtedly damage the governor's reputation. He was worried that his comments had seriously damaged their relationship. He's trying to repair his damaged reputation.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Desktop Metal lawsuit seeks a judgment that Markforged deliberately violated the patents, a holding that could force Markforged to pay up to three times the usual damages for a patent violation. Hiawatha Bray, BostonGlobe.com, "3D printing companies clash in federal court," 13 July 2018 The payout consists of $1.2 million in damages for Brown and her attorneys fees. Kimberly Veklerov, SFChronicle.com, "Oakland to pay $2.2 million to settle ex-Black Panther’s claim," 12 July 2018 There were no reports of injuries or damage over the drone's incursion. Ian Deitch, Fox News, "Israel fires missile at drone that entered from Syria," 12 July 2018 The state Department of General Services has said that contractor Walsh Heery owes $35,000 per day in damages for delays in the prison’s completion. Samantha Melamed, Philly.com, "SCI Phoenix, Pennsylvania's costliest prison, finally opens," 11 July 2018 No injuries or major damage was reported elsewhere in the county. Stephen Hudak, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Tavares twister 'nightmarish' for restaurateur but tame in the scheme of things," 5 July 2018 Crossno and Thompson's attorney, Stacy Miller, told The News & Observer his clients were each were awarded $1.5 million in compensatory damages for flights, hotels and mental anguish, pain and suffering. Colin Stutz, Billboard, "Fyre Fest Founder Billy McFarland Loses $5M Lawsuit to Two Attendees," 3 July 2018 Officials said neither the mother nor the child received substantial injuries, and the damage to the school does not appear major. Victoria Cheyne, Houston Chronicle, "Girl pushes wrong pedal during driving lesson -- crashes into school cafeteria," 22 June 2018 The problem is that the Court has almost completely squelched the availability of damages for most constitutional wrongs, including the Fourth Amendment, through a series of technical anti-plaintiff rules. Aziz Huq, Vox, "The latest Supreme Court decision is being hailed as a big victory for digital privacy. It’s not.," 22 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Firefighters tackled at least three fires that damaged several trash cans, a fence and multiple cars in Ocean Beach, police said. City News Service, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Firefighters respond to multiple fires in Ocean Beach," 13 July 2018 Lead is a neurotoxin that damages the brain and nervous system, potentially delaying cognitive development and causing behavioral problems. Ahmed Elbenni, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Mayor Tom Barrett has nominated a new Health Department commissioner. Here are the problems facing the agency," 12 July 2018 Purchased for $1,300 by Chief Warrant Officer 3 Shawn P. Miller, a CH-47 helicopter pilot, the flag was damaged in May at Bagram. Meg Jones, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Oak Creek-based Eder Flag repairs treasured American flag damaged in Afghanistan," 13 July 2018 The property was also damaged by torrential rains in 2005. Maria Pasquini, PEOPLE.com, "Famous Blade Runner House Listed for $23 Million: See the Photos!," 12 July 2018 Two southeast Houston businesses were damaged in smash-and-grabs just blocks apart on Tuesday morning. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Two businesses on Wayside struck within half-hour in attempted smash-and-grabs," 10 July 2018 The mitochondria were damaged — and nothing Dr. McCully tried revived them. New York Times, "Dying Organs Restored to Life in Novel Experiments," 10 July 2018 Roads and bridges were also damaged in Baltimore County. Sarah Meehan, baltimoresun.com, "Baltimore City not yet approved for FEMA flood assistance," 3 July 2018 About 40 homes and dozens of vehicles were damaged. Joseph A. Gambardello, Philly.com, "Recent 48-inch water main breaks in Philadelphia," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'damage.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of damage


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for damage


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from dan damage, from Latin damnum — see damn entry 1


see damage entry 1

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Statistics for damage

Last Updated

9 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for damage

The first known use of damage was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for damage



English Language Learners Definition of damage

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: physical harm that is done to something or to someone's body

: emotional harm that is done to someone

: problems that are caused by a mistake, wrong action, etc. : bad or harmful effects on a situation, a person's reputation, etc.



English Language Learners Definition of damage (Entry 2 of 2)

: to physically harm (something)

: to cause problems in or for (something) : to have a bad effect on (a situation, a person's reputation, etc.)


dam·​age | \ˈda-mij \

Kids Definition of damage

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : loss or harm caused by injury to a person's body or property How much damage was done to the car?

2 damages plural : money demanded or paid according to law for injury or damage The jury awarded $50,000 in damages.


damaged; damaging

Kids Definition of damage (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause harm or loss to



Legal Definition of damage 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : loss or harm resulting from injury to person, property, or reputation

2  plural : the money awarded to a party in a civil suit as reparation for the loss or injury for which another is liable — see also additur, cover, mitigate, remittitur — compare declaratory judgment at judgment sense 1a, injunction, specific performance at performance

Note: The trier of fact determines the amount of damages to be awarded to the prevailing party. More than one type of damages may be awarded for a single injury.

actual damages

: damages deemed to compensate the injured party for losses sustained as a direct result of the injury suffered

called also compensatory damages

consequential damages

: special damages in this entry

direct damages

: damages for a loss that is an immediate, natural, and foreseeable result of the wrongful act — compare special damages in this entry

exemplary damages \ ig-​ˈzem-​plə-​rē-​ \

: punitive damages in this entry

expectation damages

: damages recoverable for breach of contract and designed to put the injured party in the position he or she would have been in had the contract been completed

called also expectancy damages

general damages

1 : damages for a loss that is the natural, foreseeable, and logical result of a wrongful act — compare special damages in this entry

2 : damages for losses (as pain and suffering, inconvenience, or loss of lifestyle) whose monetary values are difficult to assign

hedonic damages \ hi-​ˈdä-​nik-​ \

: damages deemed to compensate for the loss of enjoyment of life resulting from a wrongful act

Note: Hedonic damages are not recognized in all jurisdictions.

incidental damages

: damages recoverable under section 2-715 of the Uniform Commercial Code in breach of contract cases for losses that include expenses incurred in handling and caring for goods which were the subject of the contract, reasonable expenses incurred in obtaining cover, and any other reasonable expenses resulting from the breach that do not fall into any other category

liquidated damages

: damages whose amount is agreed upon by the parties to a contract as adequately compensating for loss in the event of a breach

called also stipulated damages

Note: Liquidated damages in an amount exceeding that needed to reasonably compensate the injured party constitute a penalty and are therefore void.

moratory damages

in the civil law of Louisiana : damages recoverable for loss resulting from an obligor's delay in performing

Note: Compensatory damages are recoverable in a case of failure to perform.

nominal damages

: damages awarded in a small amount (as one dollar) in cases in which a party has been injured but no loss resulted from the injury or in which the injured party failed to prove that loss resulted from the injury

presumed damages

: damages that are presumed under the law to result naturally and necessarily from a tortious act and that therefore do not require proof

punitive damages

: damages awarded in cases of serious or malicious wrongdoing to punish or deter the wrongdoer or deter others from behaving similarly

called also exemplary damages, smart money

special damages

: damages awarded in an amount deemed to compensate for losses that arise not as a natural result of the injury but because of some particular circumstance of the injured party specifically : damages relating to a business, profession, or property that are easily calculable in monetary terms

called also consequential damages

— compare direct damages in this entry general damages in this entry

Note: Because special damages do not arise in every case, they must be specifically requested in the pleadings. This is an issue of particular importance in cases of harm to reputation, such as slander, libel, and malicious prosecution.

stipulated damages

in the civil law of Louisiana : liquidated damages in this entry

treble damages \ ˈtre-​bəl-​ \

: damages awarded in an amount that is three times the amount for which the trier of fact finds the wrongdoer liable

Note: Treble damages are recoverable where authorized by statute and are usually imposed as a punishment.

3  plural : losses for which damages are recoverable did not incur damages, because he was unlikely to win the foreclosure case— Rosalind Resnick



Legal Definition of damage (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to damages a damage action a damage remedy

History and Etymology for damage


Old French, from dam injury, harm, from Latin damnum financial loss, fine

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More from Merriam-Webster on damage

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for damage

Spanish Central: Translation of damage

Nglish: Translation of damage for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of damage for Arabic Speakers

Comments on damage

What made you want to look up damage? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


by force of circumstances

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