harmless


harmless
harmless, innocuous, innocent, inoffensive, unoffending are comparable when meaning not having hurtful or injurious qualities.
Harmless may be applied to whatever seems incapable of doing harm
{

poor harmless fly— Shak.

}
{

be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves— Mt 10:16

}
or to what in comparison with others of its kind or with members of other kinds is free from all power to hurt or injure
{

his death eclipsed the gaiety of nations, and impoverished the public stock of harmless pleasure— Johnson

}
{

content with harmless sport and simple food— Lowe

}
{

he comes of the Brahmin caste of New England. This is the harmless . . . untitled aristocracy— Holmes

}
Innocuous differs almost imperceptibly from harmless in meaning
{

innocuous pleasures

}
{

innocuous occupations

}
It is, however, the term preferred in technical use to specify the absence of the properties or substances in some members of a group that render other members of the same group harmful or dangerous
{

innocuous snakes

}
{

innocuous chemicals

}
{

replacing these by innocuous sodium compounds— Morrison

}
In extended use, therefore, it is often applied to something that seems harmless only by comparison
{

dynamite was milky and innocuous beside that report of C.25— Kipling

}
{

an apple orchard infested with snipers, who, a colonel informed me, were innocuous if you kept moving— Liebling

}
or that is harmless to such a degree as to merit contempt
{

seconded him as often as not in these innocuous, infantile ventures— Brooks

}
{

where the innocuous virtues of respectability receive unquestioning homage— Cohen

}
Innocent fundamentally implies guiltlessness and suggests an accusation which can be or has been disproved, but the term has become applicable to actions and qualities and, in this sense, carries the implication of absence of all potential evil especially in intention or in capacity to do harm
{

I think no pleasure innocent, that is to man hurtful— Franklin

}
{

much of the religiosity which unwise parents delight to observe in their children is pure imitation or innocent hypocrisy— Inge

}
{

[Cicero's] innocent vanity, his lack of realism— Buchany

}
{

Competitiveness is natural to man and must find some outlet, which can hardly be more innocent than games and athletic contests— Russell

}
Inoffensive implies harmlessness in a degree that is almost excessive or pitiful; it is usually applied to persons and animals
{

I could not have tormented a being as inoffensive as a shadow— Brontë

}
{

a poor simple inoffensive old man

}
Sometimes it suggests an incapacity for offending and in this sense equals unoffending, particularly when it is applied to inanimate things
{

he lost his temper when he stubbed his toe, and kicked the unoffending object

}
{

an inoffensive odor

}
{

a refreshing, inoffensive . . . stimulant— Americas

}
Antonyms: harmful
Contrasted words: injuring or injurious, hurtful, damaging (see corresponding verbs at INJURE)

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • harmless — harm·less adj 1: free from harm, liability, or loss often used in the phrase to hold harmless see also hold harmless 2: lacking capacity or intent to injure harm·less·ly adv harm·less·ness n …   Law dictionary

  • Harmless — Harm less (h[aum]rm l[e^]s), a. 1. Free from harm; unhurt; as, to give bond to save another harmless. [1913 Webster] 2. Free from power or disposition to harm; innocent; inoffensive. The harmless deer. Drayton Syn: Innocent; innoxious; innocuous; …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • harmless — c.1300, uninjured, from HARM (Cf. harm) (n.) + LESS (Cf. less). Meaning undamaged is from late 14c. Related: Harmlessly; harmlessness …   Etymology dictionary

  • harmless — [adj] not injurious or dangerous controllable, disarmed, gentle, guiltless, hurtless, innocent, innocuous, innoxious, inoffensive, inoperative, kind, manageable, naive, nonirritating, nontoxic, painless, paper tiger*, powerless, pussycat*,… …   New thesaurus

  • harmless — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ not able or likely to cause harm. DERIVATIVES harmlessly adverb harmlessness noun …   English terms dictionary

  • harmless — [härm′lis] adj. 1. Rare not harmed 2. causing or seeking to cause no harm; not harmful; inoffensive harmlessly adv. harmlessness n …   English World dictionary

  • harmless — adj. 1) harmless to 2) harmless to + inf. (it s harmless to day dream) * * * [ hɑːmlɪs] harmless to harmless to + inf. (it s harmless to daydream) …   Combinatory dictionary

  • harmless — harm|less [ harmləs ] adjective * 1. ) not causing any harm: Their wrestling was just harmless fun. You can hold the snake, it s harmless. harmless to: Most of these bugs are harmless to us. 2. ) not likely to upset people or cause problems: She… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • harmless — [[t]hɑ͟ː(r)mləs[/t]] 1) ADJ GRADED Something that is harmless does not have any bad effects, especially on people s health. Industry has been working at developing harmless substitutes for these gases... This experiment was harmless to the… …   English dictionary

  • harmless */ — UK [ˈhɑː(r)mləs] / US [ˈhɑrmləs] adjective 1) not causing any harm Their wrestling was just harmless fun. You can hold the snake: it s harmless. harmless to: Most of these bugs are harmless to us. 2) not likely to upset people or to cause… …   English dictionary


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.