Definition of harm in English:

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Pronunciation: /hɑːm/


[mass noun]
1Physical injury, especially that which is deliberately inflicted: I didn’t mean to cause him any harm
More example sentences
  • They knew that there was a very strong chance that the police would come in and remove them and, in that process, inflict physical injury or serious harm to a person.
  • Police officers then arrived and arrested the offender, 19, on suspicion of causing actual body harm.
  • Emphasize the importance of telling you and an adult at school whenever another kid or group of kids causes your child or anyone else physical harm.
injury, hurt, pain, suffering, distress, anguish, trauma, torment, grief;
damage, impairment, destruction, loss, ruin, defacement, defilement, mischief
1.1Material damage: it’s unlikely to do much harm to the engine
More example sentences
  • He said the issue was whether the extra-high roof had caused material harm and the unanimous view of planning officers had been that it did not.
  • He added: ‘We investigate all reports of pollution and harm to the environment will result in prosecution.’
  • Mrs Thelwell secured retrospective planning permission to put up a new staircase and partition wall at Sundial House as councillors accepted the work had not resulted in any material harm.
1.2Actual or potential ill effects or danger: there’s no harm in asking her
More example sentences
  • Patients who are well informed about prognosis and treatment options, including potential harms and side effects, are more likely to adhere to treatments and have better health outcomes.
  • However, in the case of the U.S.-China textile trade, the U.S. imposed the measures before actual harm had taken place.
  • What possible harm could this therapeutic effect have?
evil, badness, wrong, mischief, wrongdoing, immorality, ill, wickedness, vice, iniquity, sin, sinfulness, nefariousness


[with object]
1Physically injure: the villains didn’t harm him
More example sentences
  • Despite all these, if I ever hear again about you physically harming others, don't be surprised if the police come and arrest you for assault.
  • This taxi driver became violent and physically harmed me.
  • There is no use fighting intolerance by physically harming someone.
1.1Damage the health of: smoking when pregnant can harm your baby
More example sentences
  • Some workers who claim that their health has been harmed by tobacco smoke at work, are already suing employers for damages of up to 250,000.
  • ‘I know I am harming my health, but there are so many people smoking around me, so the harm must be slight,’ said the boy while blowing out smoke.
  • Environmentalists claim the waves were harming the health of local residents.
1.2Have an adverse effect on: this could harm his World Cup prospects
More example sentences
  • Do we feed the hungry by developing higher-yielding crops, even if it might harm the Earth?
  • Taking five or eight or ten years off to get the kids started off right before they go to school is going to mean irreparably harming our prospects for advancement.
  • Cunningham is popular with the party faithful, but party modernisers view her as too radical and fear that some of her views could be harming their electoral prospects.



come to no harm

Be unhurt or undamaged: yachts with experienced crews generally come to no harm
More example sentences
  • Terms and conditions of filming are some of the most stringent in the region but several pre-production meetings are held to ensure the hall comes to no harm.
  • Millions of women have benefited greatly from hormone replacement therapy and come to no harm.
  • Even though they had assured him he would come to no harm, Special Branch had warned him last week that his name was on a death list.

do more harm than good

Inadvertently make a situation worse rather than better: hasty legislation does more harm than good
More example sentences
  • He argued that England should abandon the whole concept of multiculturalism, since it was doing more harm than good.
  • I think that using humanitarian aid as ‘bait’ to get people ‘hooked’ on Christianity will probably end up doing more harm than good.
  • But could full - body scans being doing more harm than good?

no harm done

Used to reassure someone that what they have done has caused no real damage or problems: there’s no harm done in this case but you really must be chary of giving invitations to people we don’t know
More example sentences
  • ‘It's alright Emily, no harm done,’ he reassured me.
  • ‘I wasn't hurt and neither was Trigger, so there was no harm done,’ said the philosophical youngster.
  • Aside from being a bit scared, there was no harm done and I got my money back.

no harm, no foul

chiefly US Used to indicate that a mistake or instance of misconduct should be excused because it has not caused damage: strictly speaking it was petty trespassing, but no harm, no foul
Originally in the context of sport: compare foul (noun)
More example sentences
  • They could have then been bought off with lucrative careers, no harm, no foul.
  • The other threads are marked for deletion, no harm, no foul, all cleaned up.
  • Look, if everybody is happy with a deal, no harm, no foul.

out of harm's way

In a safe place: some of the fortune was placed overseas out of harm’s way
More example sentences
  • They're continuing to move out of harm's way into safer regions of the state.
  • Maybe we should try and catch these beautiful beasts and put them in zoos where they are safe and out of harm's way.
  • We want to get as many people out of harm's way as we possibly can.

there is no harm in ——

The specified course of action may not be guaranteed success but is at least unlikely to have unwelcome repercussions: other stores may be offering similar deals—there’s no harm in asking
More example sentences
  • There is no harm in being rich of course, unless, as it usually does, it conflicts with being just.
  • I'd say to myself - go on, just pop in and say hello for a minute, there's no harm in that.
  • Sounds a bit unlikely to happen to me, but no harm in asking I suppose.


Old English hearm (noun), hearmian (verb), of Germanic origin; related to German Harm and Old Norse harmr 'grief, sorrow'.

Words that rhyme with harm

alarm, arm, Bairam, balm, barm, becalm, calm, charm, embalm, farm, forearm, Guam, imam, ma'am, malm, Montcalm, Notre-Dame, palm, psalm, qualm, salaam, smarm

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: harm

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