harm

1 of 2

noun

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.

harm

2 of 2

verb

harmed; harming; harms

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
harmer noun
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

Example Sentences

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
That state court judge instead made her decision based on the woman’s failure to present sufficient evidence of a reasonable basis to fear future harm from Bauer, Selna’s ruling stated. Brent Schrotenboer, USA TODAY, 23 Nov. 2022 The decision frees the film from expectations to show Black bodily harm, and provides ample time to explore other parts of Brown. Robert Daniels, Los Angeles Times, 22 Nov. 2022 That decision, from the US District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, upheld the states’ argument that lifting the order would cause them grave harm and sow chaos at the border. Miriam Jordan, BostonGlobe.com, 22 Nov. 2022 Her preliminary harm assessment was between $400 million and $2 billion, according to Martin. Armando Garcia, ABC News, 22 Nov. 2022 But for Kadri, there's a solution for those looking to enjoy the cuisine of other cultures without causing harm. Taylore Glynn, Allure, 22 Nov. 2022 But that harm can be mitigated if children’s basic needs are met and their parents have financial security. Jackie Mader, Journal Sentinel, 22 Nov. 2022 That decision, from the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana, upheld the states’ argument that lifting the order would cause them grave harm and sow chaos at the border. Miriam Jordan, New York Times, 22 Nov. 2022 The proceeds from the traditional tree sales can go toward anything from funding a harm reduction vending machine, to helping pay for rent. Emily Deletter, The Enquirer, 22 Nov. 2022
Verb
Chris Heister, chief of the city’s Emergency Services Department, said portions of Golden Hall’s ceiling and walls fell during recent rains, but did not harm anyone inside. San Diego Union-Tribune, 16 Nov. 2022 The case was dismissed by a federal district judge the day before because the six attorneys general for the states had failed to establish their legal right to bring the lawsuit because the policy did not directly harm their states. Melissa Noel, Essence, 26 Oct. 2022 Speaking of temperature: the topline takeaway from several other Ryzen reviews was that these chips ran hot, something AMD says is by design and won't harm the CPU over time. Andrew Cunningham, Ars Technica, 14 Oct. 2022 Among other reasons for the earlier decision, the judges found too little evidence to back the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s assertion that the quarry wouldn’t harm human health and welfare. Elena Bruess, San Antonio Express-News, 4 Oct. 2022 Along with agreeing not to harm or prosecute him, Mr. Damiba also asked Mr. Traore and the new junta leadership to respect the commitments already made to the West African regional bloc ECOWAS. Sam Mednick And Arsene Kabore, The Christian Science Monitor, 3 Oct. 2022 Along with agreeing not to harm or prosecute him, Damiba also asked Traore and the new junta leadership to respect the commitments already made to the West African regional bloc ECOWAS. Sam Mednick And Arsene Kabore, ajc, 2 Oct. 2022 It was assumed his relative unpopularity would severely harm Democrats. Malaika Jabali, Essence, 9 Nov. 2022 The Department of Housing Preservation and Development remains adamant Haven Green won’t harm the community, and says it’s committed to the project. Alaa Elassar, CNN, 7 Nov. 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.

Word History

Etymology

Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

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

Verb

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined above

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

Dictionary Entries Near harm

Cite this Entry

“Harm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/harm. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

harm

noun

ˈhärm
1
: physical or mental damage : injury
2
harm verb

Legal Definition

harm

noun

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

More from Merriam-Webster on harm

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