Meaning of “harm” in the English Dictionary

"harm" in British English

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harmnoun [ U ]

uk /hɑːm/ us /hɑːrm/

B2 physical or other injury or damage:

A mistake like that will do his credibility a lot of harm.
Missing a meal once in a while never did anyone any harm.
You could always ask Jim if they need any more staff in his office - (there's) no harm in asking (= no one will be annoyed and you might benefit).
She meant no harm (= did not intend to offend) - she was only joking.
She was frightened by the experience but she came to no harm (= was not hurt).

More examples

  • There's no harm in applying for other jobs, but if I were you, I wouldn't advertise the fact at work.
  • Huge projects designed to aid poorer countries can sometimes do more harm than good.
  • I'm sure he's well-intentioned - he wouldn't mean any harm.
  • Modernizing historic buildings can often do more harm than good.
  • Should any harm befall me on my journey, you may open this letter.

harmverb [ T ]

uk /hɑːm/ us /hɑːrm/

B2 to hurt someone or damage something:

Thankfully no one was harmed in the accident.
The government's reputation has already been harmed by a series of scandals.

More examples

  • Research shows that it is not divorce per se that harms children, but the continuing conflict between parents.
  • The oil that discharged into the sea seriously harmed a lot of birds and animals.
  • She only buys dolphin-friendly tuna fish that is caught without harming dolphins.
  • If you harm her, you're going to have the police to reckon with.
  • He claims that the report has harmed his reputation.

(Definition of “harm” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"harm" in American English

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harmnoun [ U ]

us /hɑrm/

physical or other injury or damage:

Missing a meal once in a while won’t do you any harm.
Fortunately, she didn’t come to any harm when the car skidded.
Maybe Jim can help you – there’s no harm in asking (= no one will be annoyed and you might benefit).
harm
verb [ T ] us /hɑrm/

The tornado blew out the windows of a nearby school, but none of the children were harmed.
harmful
adjective us /ˈhɑrm·fəl/

This group of chemicals is known to be harmful to the environment.

(Definition of “harm” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)

"harm" in Business English

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harmnoun [ C or U ]

uk /hɑːm/ us

damage done to something:

The board failed to prove irreparable harm in its suit against the council.
The harms associated with climate change are serious and well recognized.
not do (any) harm to sb/sth The bond offers great benefits for issuers without doing any harm to investors.
do more harm than good

used to say that an action is not helpful and could make a situation worse:

Suspending payments on government debts would do more harm than good.

harmverb [ T ]

uk /hɑːm/ us

to damage something or make something worse:

harm the economy/environment/country Economists warned that such a spending pattern could not be sustained without harming the economy.

(Definition of “harm” from the Cambridge Business English Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)