[verb + noun phrase]
to harm or spoil something/somebody:
The fire badly damaged the town hall; Several vehicles were damaged in the crash; Smoking seriously damages your health; The allegations are likely to damage his political career; emotionally damaged children
hurt • harm • impair • prejudice
These words all mean to have a bad effect on somebody/something.
damage to cause physical harm to something, making it less attractive, useful or valuable; to have a bad effect on somebody/something’s life, health, happiness or chances of success: The fire badly damaged the town hall; emotionally damaged children
hurt (rather informal) to have a bad effect on somebody/something’s life, health, happiness or chances of success: Hard work never hurt anyone.
harm to have a bad effect on somebody/something’s life, health, happiness or chances of success: Pollution can harm marine life.
DAMAGE, HURT OR HARM?
All these words can be used to talk about how things can put people in a weaker position. An action or decision can damage/hurt/harm a person’s or country’s chances, prospects, interests, reputation or image. Hurt is slightly less formal, especially when it is used in negative statements: It won’t hurt him to have to wait a bit. Harm is also often used to talk about ways in which things in the natural world such as wildlife and the environment are affected by human activity.
impair (rather formal) to damage somebody’s health, abilities or chances: Even one drink can impair driving performance.
prejudice (formal) to damage somebody’s health, happiness or chances: She did not disclose evidence that was likely to prejudice her client’s case.
PATTERNS AND COLLOCATIONS
• to damage/hurt/harm/impair/prejudice somebody’s health/ chances
• to damage/hurt/harm/prejudice somebody’s interests
• to damage/hurt/harm somebody’s reputation
• to seriously/severely/greatly/irreparably damage/ hurt/harm/impair/prejudice somebody/something
• to badly damage/hurt/harm/impair somebody/something