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dam·​age ˈda-mij How to pronounce damage (audio)
: loss or harm resulting from injury to person, property, or reputation
flood damage
sustained severe damage to her knee
damages plural : compensation in money imposed by law for loss or injury
The judge awarded them $5,000 in damages.
: expense, cost
"What's the damage?" he asked the waiter


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damaged; damaging

transitive verb

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

Example Sentences

Noun 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. He apologized, but the damage was already done. Verb 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 damage his reputation. He was worried that his comments had damaged their relationship. He's trying to repair his damaged reputation. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
The fluffy brush rolls are ideal for keeping hardwood floors clean without causing any damage. Jodhaira Rodriguez, Good Housekeeping, 20 Jan. 2023 Johnny Mathis' home has suffered damage after a landslide occurred near his home amid heavy storms in California. Charmaine Patterson, Peoplemag, 18 Jan. 2023 In recent years, Lake Station residents who live near Deep River have suffered devastating flood damage. Carole Carlson, Chicago Tribune, 17 Jan. 2023 Nobody was hurt in the incidents, which took place over the past several weeks, though the homes sustained damage. Dan Frosch, WSJ, 17 Jan. 2023 Russian missile strikes have been causing the most damage in recent months, including strikes on infrastructure and an attack on Saturday in the central Ukrainian city of Dnipro, which killed dozens of civilians. Democrat-gazette Staff From Wire Reports, Arkansas Online, 17 Jan. 2023 The Jeep sustained heavy front-end damage and was disabled in the crash. Mike Mavredakis, Hartford Courant, 17 Jan. 2023 Five of those houses — plus the one that sustained damage — were still considered too dangerous for reentry as of Monday evening, Wengraf said. Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, 16 Jan. 2023 The woman had suffered brain damage in a train collision at the age of twelve, and the settlement was intended to support her for the rest of her life. James Lasdun, The New Yorker, 16 Jan. 2023
The Kigali Amendment, signed in 2016, banned a group of chemicals known as hydrofluorocarbons, or HFCs, which were used for many years as a substitute for CFCs, but don’t damage the ozone layer. Eric Niiler, WSJ, 9 Jan. 2023 Matt Vespi, the city’s chief financial officer, told the budget committee that not making reserve contributions during the pandemic didn’t damage San Diego’s credit rating. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 29 Nov. 2022 Many shovels have a heavy-duty polypropylene blade that won’t damage somewhat delicate surfaces like wooden decks. Adrienne Donica, Popular Mechanics, 22 Nov. 2022 The printed sheep designs on the wool dryer balls may fade with continued use but will not damage your clothing. Erica Reagle, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 Nov. 2022 The inclusion of Hancock in the reality show could not only damage his reputation, but also further impact how politicians are viewed by the public, said John Street, a professor of politics at the University of East Anglia in England. Hyder Abbasi, NBC News, 3 Nov. 2022 Parents will love that its soft tires won’t damage the walls or furniture. Marylou Tousignant, Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2022 Unlike Elsie’s uncle, who had embezzled from his own bank, William Woodward Sr. would not damage his family’s reputation or its ability to thrive in New York. Town & Country, 1 Nov. 2022 The stunts didn’t damage the paintings, which were protected by a pane of glass. Time, 25 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near damage

Cite this Entry

“Damage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/damage. Accessed 2 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
dam·​age ˈdam-ij How to pronounce damage (audio)
: a loss or harm caused by injury to one's person or property
plural : payment in money ordered by a court for loss or injury
collected damages for his broken arm in the accident claim


2 of 2 verb
damaged; damaging
: to cause damage to

Legal Definition


1 of 2 noun
: loss or harm resulting from injury to person, property, or reputation
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
: damages for a loss that is the natural, foreseeable, and logical result of a wrongful act compare special damages in this entry
: 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.

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


2 of 2 adjective
: 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

More from Merriam-Webster on damage

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