In this dictionary,

hurt (of part of your body) to feel painful; (of an action) to cause pain:My feet hurt. Ouch! That hurt! It hurts when I bend my knee.

Can we use "hurt" for things that is not a part of our body. Ex,

Is it correct to say "I hurt"?


6 Answers 6


Hurt means "causing oneself/experiencing pain" with no object. When used with personal pronouns as subjects it means "something indefinite/general causes X pain" or "X experiences pain in general."

My arm hurts = My arm causes me pain.

I hurt = Something indefinite causes me pain, I'm feeling pain in general.

If it has an object, it means "to injure X" and can be used with objects as well as people or body parts.

I hurt my arm = I injured my arm.

I hurt our relationship = I damaged our relationship

I hurt myself = I injured myself, I probably hurt too.

I hurt me is sometimes used to say you damaged yourself emotionally or spiritually. I hurt myself can mean this too, and if you mean you physically damaged yourself, is the preferred phrase.

  • 3
    I would rephrase, "My arm causes me pain," as, "I am experiencing pain in my arm." You wouldn't say that the arm itself is causing pain in your own body... Even with some kind of painful autoimmune disease, you would say the disease is the cause, not the arm itself.
    – jpmc26
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 0:17

Yes, it's perfectly idiomatic to say "I hurt" to mean "I am in (physical or emotional) pain." You can find many examples of this in current usage with a Google Books search. For example,

I Hurt Like Hell

If God is So Good, Why Do I Hurt So Bad?

I hurt for Samantha and Timothy, who were as good as orphaned now, and I hurt for Julia, who wouldn't be able to see much of either of them for a long, long time.

  • 2
    Note that "I hurt" is almost always followed by something. Your examples are all like this, and other common phrases are like "I hurt myself" or "I hurt my hand". We don't usually say just "I hurt" without some qualifier, even though we might say the equivalent "I'm in pain".
    – Barmar
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 19:26
  • 4
    @Barmar I used a naked "I hurt" only recently, in response to "How do you feel?" (with the person asking knowing I had spent a long time doing something requiring effort). I've heard the naked phrase used quite a bit. Perhaps not as much as "I'm in pain" but it's not especially rare in my experience. It may be there's some regional variation though.
    – Glen_b
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 22:20
  • 1
    Perhaps. To me it sounds like something a young child might say. But maybe after an exhausting workout session, you might be out of breath and give a terse response like that.
    – Barmar
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 22:45
  • @Glen_b's example works well for an all-over dull pain, perhaps with a self-inflicted element. "I spent all of yesterday mountain biking and now I hurt", "I fell down the stairs and now I hurt". This would be rather like "I ache" but more so.
    – Chris H
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 13:34

Well the American band R.E.M had a worldwide hit in the 1990s with a song entitled:
Everybody hurts, so I see no reason why a person cannot say "I hurt"

When your day is long
And the night, the night is yours alone
When you're sure you've had enough
Of this life, well hang on
Don't let yourself go
'Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts sometimes


For the complete lyrics, see here.

Merriam-Webster reports that hurt is both a transitive
and intransitive verb, and defines the latter as:

intransitive verb
1 a : to suffer pain or grief
b : to be in need —usually used with for ‘hurting for money’
2 : to cause damage or distress ‘hit where it hurts’

Finally, Collins Cobuild adds this clarificatory note

In American English, you can also say that a person hurts.
When that anesthetic wears off, you're going to hurt a bit.
Some British speakers also use hurt like this, but this use is not generally accepted in British English.

  • 2
    Here's another example of a song with "I hurt" in it: azlyrics.com/lyrics/brookehyland/ihurt.html (the song is not as good as the REM song though!)
    – ColleenV
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 23:26
  • But… I think "everybody hurts" can be confusing… Does everybody feel pain, or everybody make other people feel pain?
    – ESL
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 5:45
  • I don't think it is a good idea to quote song lyrics to show there is no reason not to use it. Christina Aguilera's song, "Hurt" uses "I've hurt myself" instead of "I've hurt" which doesn't prove you have to use "I've hurt myself" instead of "I've hurt". My question is have you ever uttered "I hurt" in your lifetime to mean "to suffer pain or grief"? I have not. Only No. 1 definition of M-W fits the OP's question and it is way too broad
    – user24743
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 6:49
  • 1
    @ESL in the context of the song, "everybody hurts" means that every person experiences sorrow, emotional pain, or physical pain at some point of their lives. When one experiences severe psychological distress, it can be almost indistinguishable from that of physical pain. It's worth also mentioning that R.E.M is an American band.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 11:43
  • 1
    @ESL Oh, OK. I didn't realise you meant in isolation. Yes, it could be interpreted both ways, but I hear it mainly used in connection with psychological distress.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 11:52

Yes, it's ok to say "I hurt". For whatever reason, "I hurt" might be used to describe a general, often non-physical, non-life-threatening pain. Ngram suggests the use of "I hurt" has grown hugely since 1970, so my guess is that it became a common phrase in self-help and self-awareness books, websites, and other media, and nowadays has spilled over into general usage.

The present progressive is also acceptable (and suggests more urgency):

I'm hurting!

Or, alternately:

I'm in pain!

As in your first example, a common way to refer to pain is by mentioning the source of the pain:

This really hurts!

This is really painful!

Or more colloquially:

This hurts like a sonofabitch!

There are, of course, many more colorful ways to express pain.

  • 1
    Or "everything hurts" is perhaps more idiomatic than "I hurt" if you're suffering from general physical pain, even if it's not literally true that every individual part of you hurts. Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 22:00
  • You need to note that if you type in "I hurt" in the Ngram Viewer, most of them have objects after "hurt". It doesn't prove anything. Other than this, I think your answer is the best suggesting other alternatives.
    – user24743
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 6:49
  • @Rathony Ngram shows the use of "I hurt" was pretty consistent until around 1970 when it jumped significantly. Whatever the particulars of the sentence, I imagine there's a cultural reason why the phrase is more common now than in the past.
    – Andrew
    Commented Nov 3, 2016 at 16:19

@FumbleFinger's comment

In principle, you could say "I hurt", but in practice, almost no-one ever would - it's simply not idiomatic today. Intransitive "My feet hurts" has the very strongly implied object me, but no such "transitivisation" is possible with "I hurt me". Note that people invariably ask, "Are you hurt?" For the more general enquiry "Where does it hurt?" Feasibly "Where do you hurt?" for the specific.

Just as with "My feet hurt." the strongly implied "object" is me. Unless it's "His feet hurt", in which case that could be because he's kicking me, or because I'm standing on his feet.

  • 3
    I disagree. It seems a fairly common usage for general 'all-over' aches & pains, as for instance the day after more-than-usually strenuous exercise.
    – jamesqf
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 18:32
  • 2
    @jamesqf Agreed, I hear the phrase "I hurt" fairly often as a way of describing nonspecific aches and pains, either physical or emotional.
    – barbecue
    Commented Nov 2, 2016 at 21:13

I find myself saying to myself "I hurt" when I am experiencing emotional pain or depression. I've asked myself why I use these words while experiencing emotional pain. I believe that these words are used when one is a child and wants to express the feelings of pain when the source is not evident. 'I hurt' is probably one of the first phrases one uses as a child. As a child I would not say 'I feel depressed'; I would say 'I hurt' meaning the same thing.

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