I'm trying to ask the question, "Have you ever hurt anyone or anything as a result of extreme emotions?".

You can hurt someone, but you can't hurt an object (colloquially anyways). I could say Have you ever hurt anyone or damaged anything but I'd rather use one verb to cover both subjects (a ZEUGMA!) in the name of elegance if possible.

  • 1
    'Damage' can be used with human as well as non-sentient object referents, but I'd say that 'His actions damaged both the children and the furniture' is an unacceptable zeugma. – Edwin Ashworth May 17 '18 at 21:53
  • One can 'do detriment' to a person, an animal or an object. Loss or damage done or caused to, or sustained by, any person or thing OED. – Nigel J May 17 '18 at 22:54
  • 'mistreated' works for both but might not be a high enough threshold - abuse might be a bit much – Tom22 May 17 '18 at 23:36
  • 2
    Personally I think harm works for objects too. The solvent won't harm the finish on the car. The fall didn't harm my phone ? the third verb definitions and additional sentences support that though en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/harm – Tom22 May 17 '18 at 23:38

It sounds a bit legal but ‘inflict injury or damage’ is a broad phrase which could be used. It encompasses a wide class of potential receivers of damage, with the emphasis on the actual damage over the thing/person that was damaged.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.