1

After looking at the options provided by Thesaurus.com (they had none; they didn't recognise the word), as well as those provided by the native thesaurus on DuckDuckGo, I'm looking for a word which can be used in place of or interchangeably with 'harmfulness'. Preferably, I would like to avoid the '-ness' convention altogether, though the only synonyms I've been able to come up with thusfar all end with '-ness'.

EDIT:

To clarify a couple of things that have come up since this question has been posted, the reason I'd like to avoid the '-ness' convention is that I'm writing an article for academic audiences, and the manipulation of words with technically-correct grammatical conventions to conform language in ways which are infrequent and bloated sounds sophomoric at best and pedestrian at worst.

An example of a sentence which uses the word in question would be this: "An analysis of the harmfulness of these poisons yielded a moderate cascade."

  • 1
    First, perhaps, you should explain to us the difference between "harmfulness" and "harm" (noun). They seem the same to me. – GEdgar Dec 15 '18 at 16:10
  • 2
    @GEdgar Harm refers to the effects of something which is harmful, whereas harmfulness describes the tendency of something to produce harm - to be harmful. – Sam Dec 15 '18 at 16:16
  • Use harmfulness in a sentence—and then explain what you think is wrong with it and why you want a different word. (Be sure to edit your question, not just provide this information in a comment.) Also, what's wrong with capacity for harm or potential for harm if it's just the -ness you don't like? – Jason Bassford Dec 15 '18 at 18:51
  • 2
    The explanation, provided in the edit, of why you want to avoid any word that ends in -ness is less than clear. You say that 'the manipulation of words with technically-correct grammatical conventions to conform language in ways which are infrequent and bloated sounds sophomoric at best and pedestrian at worst'. What exactly does that mean? What is being manipulated here? Conform the language to what? Why do you think that the words that end in -ness are 'infrequent and bloated'? – jsw29 Dec 16 '18 at 0:47
  • 2
    Your edited clarification seems to be saying that you don't think "harmfulness" is an appropriate word for academic use. But Google Scholar search yields about 42,800 results, so it looks like 'harmfulness' is a perfectly good choice. – Mark Beadles Dec 16 '18 at 1:08
4

Why not use the case specific word ?
So in the case of poison its toxicity.
For another case another specific term.

2

"Harmfulness" has the advantage that it uses typical English conciseness in adding suffixes to indicate a more complex and wordy epithet, in this case the degree to which something has the capacity to cause harm. However, if you're after a synonym, the closest would be:

virulence
noun

the quality or state of being virulent

virulent
adjective

  1. a : marked by a rapid, severe, and destructive course
    a virulent infection
    b : able to overcome bodily defensive mechanisms : markedly pathogenic
    virulent bacteria

  2. : extremely poisonous or venomous

[Merriam-Webster]

Definition 2 of virulent would seem to apply exactly in your example:

"An analysis of the virulence of these poisons yielded a moderate cascade."

1

How about potency

1a : force, power

b : the quality or state of being potent

c : the ability or capacity to achieve or bring about a particular result

(see definition 1c, Marriam-Webster)

as in the capacity to do harm, or simply harm?

As in

An analysis of the potency of these poisons yielded a moderate cascade.

or

An analysis of the (potential) harm of these poisons yielded a moderate cascade.

The former would work for any chemical, the latter may imply other types of harm, e.g. it's harm towards the environment during manufacture.

  • I'm terribly sorry, I hope this is more concise. – A Lambent Eye Dec 15 '18 at 23:32
  • Like so? I've seen a few good ones, but I still need some practice to internalise the procedure, I think. – A Lambent Eye Dec 15 '18 at 23:50
  • It's best to quote the definition rather than rely on a link, since (a) links aren't always permanent, and (b) the information should be immediately available to the user rather than requiring a further click. Here's two recent answers of mine as examples: one and two. Formatting isn't so important (and is a bit tricky for indents and sub-points), it's the content that we're looking for. :-) – Chappo Dec 15 '18 at 23:55
  • Oh I see, haven't seen that before, thank you very much. – A Lambent Eye Dec 15 '18 at 23:57

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.