He claimed serious injury to his reputation.

Can I use damage?

The closure of the factory will cause severe damage to the local economy.

The ship sustained only minor damage.

Can I use injury, instead of damage? Are they synonyms?

3 Answers 3


If you tell someone about serious injury, the first thing comes is the physical harm to someone.

OALD defines this word and it is mostly used for physical harm

injury - harm done to a person's or an animal's body, for example in an accident

However, injury can happen to someone's feeling (on the same page).

injury - Damages may be awarded for emotional injury.

In usage note injury OALD defines being injured where instances are of physically being hurt.

Being a medical professional, I'd like to mention that damage can also happen to human organs (especially internal) but then it could be the result of an injury or harm by bad microorganisms

In that road accident, he got several injuries. In fact, his liver is damaged and needs to be repaired. OR
I have never seen such worse septicemia. Her internal organs are damaged and will stop working soon.

But again, if you are talking about someone's reputation or injury in the context of non-living thing, use damage to keep ambiguity at bay.

Don't get confuse that damage can be used for physical harm. 'Physical' can be used for non living things like computers and books etc. :)

So, a ship is a non-living thing so it might sustain damage and let the closer cause damage to the economy, not injury. :)

  • 1
    You omitted one important note about the context of injury being used for "damage to a person's feelings". Your dictionary says "(law)". Commented May 19, 2014 at 10:42
  • It isn't related to the OP Question, but "such worse" does not sound like natural English.
    – TecBrat
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 13:59
  • @TecBrat not sure what do you mean by natural English! "...have been terrifically disturbed due to such worse weather condition. - from the US Trade Media
    – Maulik V
    Commented May 20, 2014 at 5:02

Injury: a wound or damage to part of your body caused by an accident or attack.

For example: "She was taken to hospital with serious head injuries."
So because the word injury is used for animate person, we cannot use damage instead of it.

Damage: physical harm that is done to something or to a part of someone's body, so that it is broken or injured.

For example: "These chemicals have been found to cause serious environmental damage."
So we cannot use injury instead of damage in that sentence.

  • Do you notice that each definition includes the other word?
    – mcalex
    Commented May 22, 2014 at 2:57

In the case of He claims serious injury to his reputation;

Here, the reputation of a certain person is personified.(why?)

Lets get thorough with the definitions first:

An injury affects a living organism, the likes of you and me

Damage affects a non-living object, like a car

So they can not be used interchangeably.

Lets get back to your word usage:

He claimed serious damage to his reputation

Is absolutely correct.

The closure of the factory will cause severe injury to the economy.

Is incorrect and should be replaced with damage.

The ship sustained only minor damage is correct. Injury here is incorrect.

  • 1
    In general, injury would be damage to a living thing, while damage would be injury to a non-living thing. :) There are special cases, such as the legal term injury to your reputation. However, you can seldom go wrong restricting injury to living things (including plants) and damage to anything else, both tangible and intangible objects.
    – Phil Perry
    Commented May 19, 2014 at 17:18

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