\ ˈhärm How to pronounce harm (audio) \

Definition of harm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : physical or mental damage : injury the amount of harm sustained by the boat during the storm
2 : mischief, hurt I meant you no harm.


harmed; harming; harms

Definition of harm (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to damage or injure physically or mentally : to cause harm (see harm entry 1) to No animals were harmed in the making of the film. the national interest … was gravely harmed by this attack— Elmer Davis

Other Words from harm


harmer noun

Synonyms for harm

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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Choose the Right Synonym for harm


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 harm in a Sentence

Noun They threatened him with bodily harm. The scandal has done irreparable harm to his reputation. She'll do anything to protect her children from harm. They have suffered serious physical harm. These new regulations could cause lasting harm to small businesses. Verb He would never intentionally harm his children. chemicals that could harm the environment The scandal has seriously harmed his reputation. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The subjects tolerated 90 minutes a week of the HIIT exercise; the harm occurred when the weekly exercise reached 152 minutes. Betsy Morris, WSJ, 19 June 2022 In investigations that are focused almost exclusively on physical action, like assaults, muggings and murders, prosecutors do not need to focus on proving intent since the link between the action and the harm is typically clear. New York Times, 18 June 2022 In investigations that are focused almost exclusively on physical action, like assaults, muggings and murders, prosecutors do not need to focus on proving intent since the link between the action and the harm is typically clear. Maggie Haberman, BostonGlobe.com, 18 June 2022 That analysis is really analyzing your place or privilege – really just trying to analyze your relationship to the harm being done. Ryan Bergeron, CNN, 17 June 2022 The most profound harm is visited on the developing brain and nervous system. Quartz, 16 June 2022 Marketers just don’t understand, or seem to ignore, the harm that picking a bad agency can do to their career. Avi Dan, Forbes, 16 June 2022 Luttig on Thursday was unsparing in describing the harm that his fellow conservatives who have cast their lot with Trump could have done to the U.S. government — and still could do. Jacqueline Alemany, Washington Post, 16 June 2022 Oliver explained that there are two bills currently in Congress with bipartisan support that would address some of the harm done by tech monopolies. Ky Henderson, Rolling Stone, 13 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb And even less control over the predictably messy impulses of a still maturing young man, who might believe that a bout of heartbreak or a bad fight with a bully is the end of the world, and might be tempted to harm himself or someone else. Damon Young, Washington Post, 20 June 2022 The Ohio Supreme Court, which heard arguments Tuesday, will decide whether those providing mental health services are immune from lawsuits if their patients kill or harm themselves. Titus Wu, The Enquirer, 14 June 2022 Police said the suspect confronted the family of three and forced them into a bedroom, threatening to harm them for not complying. Carole Carlson, Chicago Tribune, 10 June 2022 Likewise, if people can’t get their hands on the easiest tools to harm themselves or others, there will be fewer tragedies. Time, 7 June 2022 The Manchester Police Department was notified on May 23 that Darius Burke, 27, made threats to harm himself and others over the phone, police said in a release. Hartford Courant, 7 June 2022 DeBeaubien filed a lawsuit in 2019 alleging that the CHP and mental health professionals had ignored behavior that indicated Wheat’s intentions to harm him and Mary Wheat. Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2022 Or do such images invade the privacy of grieving families and harm them even further? Joel Mathis, The Week, 1 June 2022 Telling our stories is an act of defense against the narratives being pushed that seek to harm us. Jaclyn Moore, Variety, 1 June 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of harm


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for harm

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Old English hearm; akin to Old High German harm injury, Old Church Slavonic sramŭ shame

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Time Traveler for harm

Time Traveler

The first known use of harm was before the 12th century

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Dictionary Entries Near harm



harm's way

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Statistics for harm

Last Updated

23 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Harm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harm. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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More Definitions for harm


\ ˈhärm How to pronounce harm (audio) \

Kids Definition of harm

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: physical or mental damage : injury The storm did little harm to the sheltered beach.


harmed; harming

Kids Definition of harm (Entry 2 of 2)

: to cause hurt, injury, or damage to insects that harm trees

Choose the Right Synonym for harm


harm, injury, and damage mean an act that causes loss or pain. harm can be used of anything that causes suffering or loss. The frost did great harm to the crops. injury is likely to be used of something that has as a result the loss of health or success. She suffered an injury to the eyes. damage stresses the idea of loss (as of value or fitness). The fire caused much damage to the furniture.



Legal Definition of harm

: loss of or damage to a person's right, property, or physical or mental well-being : injury

Other Words from harm

harm transitive verb

More from Merriam-Webster on harm

Nglish: Translation of harm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of harm for Arabic Speakers


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