"The wound healed" gets 890,000 hits when googled, whereas "the injury healed" only gets 525,000.

Is there any reason for the difference?

Whether the damage to someone's body is deliberate – wound – or accidental – injury – does not make any difference to the healing process, does it?

  • There are 2-3 times as many serious injuries, so I thought maybe they didn't all heal. But fatal wounds are more common than fatal injuries. Mar 20, 2014 at 12:43
  • 4
    (OP is mistaken in supposing wounds are always deliberate, and injuries always accidental.) Mar 20, 2014 at 12:44
  • @FumbleFingers - maybe on Ngram, but not in real life. No one would say a fatal gunshot was only a wound, not an injury. It pierces the skin (hence gunshot wound/GSW) but the lethality comes from internal injury. As do deaths from serious knife wounds, etc. Most of the lethal injuries I've seen were not wounds, but automobile injuries, falls, etc. Mar 20, 2014 at 13:06
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    A "wound" is deliberate as a verb, not necessarily as a noun, i.e. "He wounded her with the knife." vs. "Her wounds from the accident are almost healed". Susan's answer does a good job explaining what a "wound" is. Mar 20, 2014 at 13:26

3 Answers 3


A guess:

wound is commonly expected to involve a disturbance of some kind to the skin: a laceration, puncture, burn/blister, avulsion, etc. (The given definition is an injury, especially one in which the skin or another external surface is torn, pierced, cut, or otherwise broken.) A small wound can heal in 5-7 days; a deeper wound in a few weeks. Even horrible wounds (with care) can be seen to heal in time, often even day by day.

I think the key is in seeing.

Many injuries (damage or harm done to or suffered by a person or thing) do not visibly "heal", and those that do certainly take much longer than wound healing. For example, a broken toe is certainly an injury. It takes about 6 weeks to heal well enough to stop causing pain, 8-9 to heal completely (depending on use). A ruptured spleen is a serious injury, but you can't watch it heal without specific imaging tests. Same for head injuries, muscle/kidney/joint/ligamentous/cardiac (yes, you can injure your heart)/liver/etc.

Injuries often do heal. People just tend to refer to that process as getting better, not healing.

Googling the wound heal will give you hits about visible wounds.

Reducing the bacteria levels helps the wound heal faster.

Googling the injury heal will give you half as many hits, mostly about joint/muscle/head injuries, etc.

If you have pain along the shins during activity, stop immediately and let the injury heal.


A guess, too:

The reason why "the wound healed" gets more hits than "the injury healed" must be that the word wound is commonly used in both its proper and figurative meanings, whereas it is not as common with the word injury.

"Wounded feelings" gets 59,800 hits when "injured feelings" only gets 31,400.

  • That is definitely a point, like one might say "The wounds on my soul will take a longer time to heal."
    – skymningen
    Mar 20, 2014 at 15:04

An injury may or may not be a wound.

It is only if the injury turns out to be a wound does it need to heal and the question of its healing arise.

It's not much about the language or usage per se, but the meanings of the words.

injury: Damage or harm done to or suffered by a person or thing

On the other hand,

wound 1. An injury, especially one in which the skin or another external surface is torn, pierced, cut, or otherwise broken.

By the way, the difference between injury and wound is not related to the difference between deliberate and accidental.

  • "only if the injury turns out to be a wound does it need to heal"... So... internal injuries don't need to heal? If not heal, how do they recover health? Mar 20, 2014 at 16:10
  • @medica Internal are no exception. Any injury needs to heal only if it turns into a wound.
    – Kris
    Mar 21, 2014 at 5:57
  • Folks, check your logic before being generous with your down votes :)
    – Kris
    Mar 21, 2014 at 5:58
  • Doesn't a sprained ankle need to heal before you can run on it? I wouldn't call it a wound, but I would say "She has injured herself." Would a doctor say the ligaments have been wounded? I'm asking, because I don't know.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Mar 21, 2014 at 7:22
  • @Mari-LouA - you're right. Doctors (in the US) don't say you've wounded your ankle (meaning strains or sprains). We say, injured. And they do need to heal. In my decades as a doctor, I've treated a few sports wounds, and countless sports injuries, wrist sprains, crush injuries, hip fractures, broken ribs, repetitive use injuries, etc. The vast majority have healed. I don't know what they would do in Kris' country; stay broken perhaps, or get themselves categorized as wounds then proceed to heal with permission. Mar 21, 2014 at 7:58

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