Lysander is harmless enough. We keep each other company with our mutual interests, yet I don't think he could handle the enormity of our present situation.

Source: Diablo 2, Drognan (sells magic items) about Lysander (sells magic potions)

Are these words ambiguous in this context? I wonder whether "harmless" means "not causing any physical or mental damage or injury" or "unlikely to annoy or worry people" and "interests" "something in which one is interested; a hobby or pursuit" or maybe "benefit; advantage" (the definitions from the Collins English Dictionary).

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your 2 definitions of harmless aren't even really different.

harmless means causes no harm.

harm is a fairly broad word which essentially means "bad stuff".

It generally implies bad for something or someone. things that are morally bad don't necessarily imply harm if they don't have any effects on anyone or anything.

Causing annoyance is considered bad, and causing physical injury is considered is bad.

and considering that interests is in the context of keep each other company, then it sounds like it probably means "something in which one is interested; a hobby or pursuit"*


Given a very short sentence, such as:

Foxglove is harmless enough.

the word harmless is bound to be "ambiguous" in such a short snippet, although that ambiguity might be cleared up after you examine enough surrounding text.

When X is a person, the statement X is harmless enough, usually means "unlikely to cause much annoyance or damage," but there are several contexts in which harmless can be applied. For example, a harmless person:

  • is unlikely to incite violence
  • is unlikely to betray friends
  • is unlikely to hurt their employer's reputation
  • is unlikely to assault or harass someone
  • is unlikely to be a bad influence
  • doesn't mean to hurt someone's feelings when joking around

That said, context can provide a more specialized view. Let's say my 17-year-old daughter is spending a lot of time around a 23-year-old guy named Joe. They are good friends, but I'm concerned that an unhealthy romantic relationship might be starting. My wife might assure me by saying,

"Oh, Joe is harmless enough."

In that context, she probably means that she doesn't think our daughter wants the relationship to turn romantic, and that it's unlikely Joe is going to try to seduce her.

A dictionary can't possibly cover all the different ways a word like this could be used or applied.


Some in-game insight:

Lysander is harmless enough

In Diablo II, the NPC Lysander set to be one of those "My own interest/benefit comes first" type of person. While this is not welcome to many other 'folks in town' (other NPC), he ready does not cause any threat to other, thus meaning he's harmless enough

We keep each other company with our mutual interests

This is referring to their benefit in specific; selling magical items for gold.

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