Victim vs. Casualty

30 June 2023

Hello! This week on Ask a Teacher, we will answer a question about the difference between the words, "victim" and "casualty."


Dear teacher,

Ask a Teacher: Victim vs. Casualty
Ask a Teacher: Victim vs. Casualty

I am Mayer from Colombia. I hope you are well.

I would like to ask you about the difference between the words, "casualty" and "victim."




Thank you, Mayer, for this question. Both "casualty" and "victim" are nouns. They have similar meanings and usually describe people who have suffered in some way. Let's look closer at each word.


A "victim" is someone who has been hurt or even killed because of a crime or natural disaster.

Rescuers gave shelter to the flood victims.

We often use the preposition "of" after the word, followed by what happened.

She was a victim of a robbery.

"Victim" can also mean someone who has suffered because of someone else's actions.

The TV show was an interview with victims of religious abuse.

Also, a victim does not always have to be a person.

The school's theater and music programs were the main victims of budget cuts.

Let's move on to "casualty."


Like "victim," "casualty" means someone who has been hurt or killed, but the difference is in the cause. If that person has been harmed in a war or accident, then they are a "casualty."

The implosion of the Titan submarine resulted in five casualties.

We also use "casualty" with the preposition "of" to say that someone suffered because of a situation or an event.

The four children were the only surviving casualties of the plane crash in the Amazon rainforest.

And, like the word victim, a casualty can be something other than a person.

My succulent plant became a casualty of overwatering.

The easiest way to remember which word to use is to understand the situation that harmed the person. If the incident you are talking about was a natural disaster or a crime, the word "victim" is most often used. If you are describing the damage of a war or accident, use "casualty."

Please let us know if these explanations and examples have helped you, Mayer.

What question do you have about American English? Send us an email at

And that's Ask a Teacher.

I'm Faith Pirlo.

Faith Pirlo wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

implosion n.­­ a collapse inward or a crushing effect

succulents – n. plants with thick, heavy leaves or stems that store water­­­­­­