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[hahrm-fuh l] /ˈhɑrm fəl/
causing or capable of causing harm; injurious:
a harmful idea; a harmful habit.
Origin of harmful
before 1000; Middle English; Old English hearmful. See harm, -ful
Related forms
harmfully, adverb
harmfulness, noun
quasi-harmful, adjective
quasi-harmfully, adverb
unharmful, adjective
unharmfully, adverb
hurtful, detrimental, damaging, deleterious.
beneficial. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for harmful
  • Every week, it seems, a new study identifies potentially harmful chemicals in common items.
  • Although many plastics are safe to reuse, some contain components that may be harmful to humans and the environment.
  • Singling out meat-eating as harmful to the environment is overly simplistic.
  • Commercial oven cleaners can expose you to caustic chemicals and harmful toxins while reducing the air quality in your home.
  • Normally the immune system's white blood cells help protect the body from harmful substances, called antigens.
  • Fire ants are red-colored insects that sting and deliver a harmful substance, called venom, into your skin.
  • Solar panels harness the power of the sun to produce electricity without releasing harmful emissions into the environment.
  • The risks of such injuries, as well as other potentially harmful or unsafe.
  • Each time you spray a standard cleaner on your counter you breathe in a fine mist of harmful chemicals.
  • If you've ever sweated over a single project for months on end, this video could prove harmful to your mental health.
British Dictionary definitions for harmful


causing or tending to cause harm; injurious
Derived Forms
harmfully, adverb
harmfulness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for harmful

mid-14c., from harm (n.) + -ful. Related: Harmfully.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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