The terms - cut to the quick, cut someone down to size, tore them off a strip, all show that words are very powerful tools and can be used to humiliate and hurt. Words that hurt may be remembered forever.
A child can learn to wound with words from very young. Children, even with their limited vocabulary quickly find that they can use words to their great advantage.A child will speak without thinking about what they are saying, it is only as people mature that they learn to hold their tongue, well some do!
In an argument it is all too easy to hurt someone with words,as emotions can be running high and neither person may be sufficiently in control as to think before they speak. Words can have an everlasting effect,so words spoken in haste are often the most wounding.
It may be difficult to retract the spoken word,but unlike the written word,as time passes the hurtful words might at least be forgotten or become diluted,as when people calm down they often realize words spoken in the heat of the moment were not meant,in all honesty.
Words can be used in very different ways,either to hurt people,by expressing how upset a person is or to damage a person, through hatred for that person or jealousy of that person. Hurtful words can be chosen deliberately to draw attention to a persons vulnerability .Words can humiliate a person and cause them to have low self esteem.Words can be used to bully a person, and if combined with aggressive intonation can be very damaging.
Someone might be more inclined to use hurtful words when they have for example,had a drink. This in effect loosens the tongue and they may vent their true feelings,whereas otherwise without a drink,a person might be more guarded in what they say.
While it is easy to hurt with words, most of us can probably say in all honesty that we have at some time been too quick to hurt with throw away words, but the feelings that they can lead to may last for a long time after they have been said.The saying 'sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me' is not altogether true, as words can very much hurt and cause emotional damage which can have long term consequences.