What It Means
: harmful often in a subtle or unexpected way
"With an injury, the body automatically responds with an inflammatory process to neutralize the toxic microorganisms, repair the affected tissues and eliminate debris from the wound. That is beneficial, but chronic inflammation is deleterious, causing a continuous supply of free-radicals, overwhelming our antioxidant immunities." — Phyllis Van Buren, The St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times, 24 Apr. 2019
"But Superior Court Judge Peter Bariso ruled in 2016 that the landfill could stay open because its closure 'would have drastic and deleterious effects on the surrounding communities and their taxpayers.'" — Scott Fallon, The Record (Bergen County, New Jersey), 24 May 2019
Did You Know?
Pernicious, baneful, noxious, and detrimental are the wicked synonyms of deleterious. All five words refer to something exceedingly harmful. Of the group, deleterious is most often used for something that is unexpectedly harmful. Pernicious implies irreparable harm done by something that degrades or undermines in an evil or insidious way ("the pernicious effects of corruption"), while baneful suggests injury through poisoning or destruction ("the baneful consequences of war"). Noxious can apply to anything that is both offensive and injurious to the health of body or mind ("noxious chemical fumes"), and detrimental implies an obvious harmfulness to something specified ("the detrimental effects of excessive drinking").
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