harmless

adjective

harm·​less ˈhärm-ləs How to pronounce harmless (audio)
1
: free from harm, liability, or loss
2
: lacking capacity or intent to injure : innocuous
a harmless joke
harmlessly adverb
harmlessness noun

Example Sentences

His ideas seem harmless enough. We're just having a bit of harmless fun. It was just a harmless joke.
Recent Examples on the Web Your life might be on the line, whereas our bullies were harmless. Time, 13 Jan. 2023 Despite some misconceptions, tap water is generally harmless when ingested during drinking and cooking because the microbes are killed by stomach acid. Alexandra Meeks, CNN, 12 Jan. 2023 Other items like sports equipment may seem harmless, but could be dangerous in the wrong hands. Sarah Rumpf, Fox News, 23 Dec. 2022 And while stories that push this narrative might seem harmless, the consequences can be very real. Oliver Darcy, CNN, 22 Dec. 2022 Yet, despite their uncanny appearance, vampire deer are actually harmless. Donna Sarkar, Discover Magazine, 27 Oct. 2022 While this may seem harmless, over time your nails will become thinner, weaker, and more brittle. Tori Crowther, Allure, 27 Sep. 2022 This software can be hidden behind another app that seems harmless. Kim Komando, USA TODAY, 19 Sep. 2022 Officials agreed to reduce the sensitivity of their coronavirus tests to address concerns that athletes who had fully recovered from an infection could still test positive if harmless fragments of viral RNA remained in their bodies. Karen Kaplan, Los Angeles Times, 4 Feb. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near harmless

Cite this Entry

“Harmless.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harmless. Accessed 30 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition

harmless

adjective
harm·​less ˈhärm-ləs How to pronounce harmless (audio)
1
: free from harm
2
: unable to harm
harmlessly adverb
harmlessness noun

Legal Definition

harmless

adjective
harm·​less
1
: free from harm, liability, or loss
often used in the phrase to hold harmless
see also hold harmless
2
: lacking capacity or intent to injure
harmlessly adverb
harmlessness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on harmless

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