View synonyms for harmless


[ hahrm-lis ]


  1. without the power or desire to do harm; innocuous:

    He looks mean but he's harmless; a harmless Halloween prank.

    Synonyms: unobjectionable, benign, innocent, mild, inoffensive

  2. without injury; unhurt; unharmed.


/ ˈhɑːmlɪs /


  1. not causing any physical or mental damage or injury
  2. unlikely to annoy or worry people

    a harmless sort of man

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Derived Forms

  • ˈharmlessness, noun
  • ˈharmlessly, adverb

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Other Words From

  • harm·less·ly adverb
  • harm·less·ness noun

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Word History and Origins

Origin of harmless1

1250–1300; Middle English; harm, -less

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Idioms and Phrases

  1. hold harmless, Law. to relieve from responsibility or liability for any damage or loss. Also save harmless.

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Example Sentences

J&J’s shot uses a cold virus like a Trojan horse to carry the spike gene into the body, where cells make harmless copies of the protein to prime the immune system in case the real virus comes along.

From Fortune

That’s likely also the case with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, which employs a harmless type of cold virus, to which a section of coronavirus is added.

Had it been five degrees lower, it would have been dry and relatively harmless.

Jenner’s great advance was to use a related but relatively harmless virus.

From Time

Delete old appsIt may seem harmless to leave old apps kicking around on your phone or computer, but there are some downsides.

The motives were most always harmless, and only sometimes ethically questionable.

Knowing the fellow to be both poor and harmless, I quietly gave him one.

Of the over 100 strains, the majority are harmless and a healthy immune system will fight it without a person ever realizing it.

A harmless woman is being harassed online by a nerdy subculture.

Are you not defeating the cause by demonstrating violence in your response to a nonviolent, harmless kid?

Y was a Youth, that did not love school; Z was a Zany, a poor harmless fool.

This harmless image of a fierce beast Yung Pak would pull about the floor with a string by the hour.

In some animals they are apparently harmless; in others they are an important cause of disease.

The motive of this harmless ruse was to bolster up Spanish prestige and thereby avoid bloodshed.

She tolerated, indeed she sometimes even smiled at the gallant captain's pleasantries, when they were of a harmless sort.


Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.