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collateral damage

Meaning: deaths and injuries of innocent people in military operations

For example:

  • The military spokesman described the killing of innocent people as "collateral damage".

  • When we bombed the hospital, a certain amount of unavoidable collateral damage occurred.

Note: Mostly used by people in the military or government in order to avoid using words like "deaths" and "injuries" and "killed by mistake" after their forces have shot or bombed innocent men, women and children.

Quick Quiz:

"Collateral damage" is doublespeak for the killing and injuring of

a. enemy soldiers

b. ordinary people

c. one's own soldiers

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Contributor: Matt Errey