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1

libel

play
noun li·bel \ˈlī-bəl\

Simple Definition of libel

  • : the act of publishing a false statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of someone

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of libel

  1. 1 a :  a written statement in which a plaintiff in certain courts sets forth the cause of action or the relief sought b archaic :  a handbill especially attacking or defaming someone

  2. 2 a :  a written or oral defamatory statement or representation that conveys an unjustly unfavorable impression b (1) :  a statement or representation published without just cause and tending to expose another to public contempt (2) :  defamation of a person by written or representational means (3) :  the publication of blasphemous, treasonable, seditious, or obscene writings or pictures (4) :  the act, tort, or crime of publishing such a libel

Examples of libel in a sentence

  1. To meet the Supreme Court's definition of libel involving a public figure, a quotation must not only be made up or materially altered. It must also defame the person quoted, and damage his or her reputation or livelihood … —Jane Gross, New York Times, 5 June 1993

  2. It is relevant to note that in 1987 the suit against Ms. Malcolm was dismissed … in a narrow ruling that stated that even if the quotations were “false and mischievous,” Ms. Malcolm's alterations did not represent malicious intent and therefore did not constitute libel. —Fred W. Friendly, New York Times Book Review, 25 Feb. 1990

  3. The above is not only a flat lie but a political libel which may possibly damage me. Publish it at your peril … —Bernard Shaw, letter, 16 Sep. 1949

  4. In their tiresome addiction to this use of alleged, the newspapers, though having mainly in mind the danger of libel suits, can urge in further justification the lack of any other single word that exactly expresses their meaning; but the fact that a mud-puddle supplies the shortest route is not a compelling reason for walking through it. —Ambrose Bierce, Write It Right, 1909

  5. He sued the newspaper for libel.

  6. The newspaper was found guilty of libel.

  7. The newspaper's attorneys argued that the article was not a libel.



Origin and Etymology of libel

Middle English, written declaration, from Anglo-French, from Latin libellus, diminutive of liber book


First Known Use: 14th century

Rhymes with libel


2

libel

play
verb li·bel \ˈlī-bəl\

Simple Definition of libel

  • : to write and publish a false statement that causes people to have a bad opinion of (someone)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of libel

libeled

or

libelled

libeling

or

libelling

play \-b(ə-)liŋ\
  1. intransitive verb
  2. :  to make libelous statements

  3. transitive verb
  4. :  to make or publish a libel against (see 1libel)

libeler

play \-b(ə-)lər\ noun

libelist

play \-bə-list\ noun

Examples of libel in a sentence

  1. And in Oklahoma last year, lawyers filed a class-action suit against a group supporting tort reform, saying they had libeled trial lawyers. —Judith Miller, New York Times, 11 June 1996

  2. Government officials, he observed, were public servants who remained accountable to the people and therefore could not be libeled for their performance in office. —Leonard W. Levy, Emergence of a Free Press, 1985

  3. The jury found that the article libeled him.

  4. <the court decided that the newspaper's reportage of the former mayor, while irresponsible, did not constitute an effort to libel him>



Origin and Etymology of libel

(see 1libel)


First Known Use: 1588


LIBEL Defined for Kids

1

libel

play
noun li·bel \ˈlī-bəl\

Definition of libel for Students

  1. :  the publication of a false statement that hurts a person's reputation




2

libel

play
verb li·bel

Definition of libel for Students

libeled

or

libelled

libeling

or

libelling

  1. :  to hurt a person's reputation by publishing a false statement

libeler

or

libeller

noun



Law Dictionary

1

libel

play
noun li·bel \ˈlī-bəl\

Legal Definition of libel

  1. 1 :  complaint 1 —used especially in admiralty and divorce cases

  2. 2a :  a defamatory statement or representation especially in the form of written or printed words; specifically :  a false published statement that injures an individual's reputation (as in business) or otherwise exposes him or her to public contempt b :  the publication of such a libel c :  the crime or tort of publishing a libel — see also single publication rule, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan — compare defamation, slander



Additional Notes on libel

Although libel is defined under state case law or statute, the U.S. Supreme Court has enumerated some First Amendment protections that apply to matters of public concern. In New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the Court held that in order to recover damages a public person (as a celebrity or politician) who alleges libel (as by a newspaper) has to prove that “the statement was made with ‘actual malice’ — that is, with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard of whether it was false or not” in order to recover damages. The Court has also held that the states cannot allow a private person to recover damages for libel against a media defendant without a showing of fault (as negligence) on the defendant's part. These protections do not apply to matters that are not of public concern (as an individual's credit report) and that are not published by a member of the mass media. A libel plaintiff must generally establish that the alleged libel refers to him or her specifically, that it was published to others, and that some injury (as to reputation) occurred that gives him or her a right to recover damages (as actual, general, presumed, or special damages). The defendant may plead and establish the truth of the statements as a defense. Criminal libel may have additional elements, as in tending to provoke a breach of peace or in blackening the memory of someone who is dead, and may not have to be published to someone other than the person libeled.

Origin and Etymology of libel

Anglo-French, from Latin libellus, diminutive of liber book


2

libel

transitive verb li·bel

Legal Definition of libel

libeled

also

libelled

libeling

also

libelling

  1. 1 :  to make or publish a libel against :  to hurt the reputation of by libel <respondent's complaint alleged that he had been libeled by statements in a full-page advertisement — New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, 376 U.S. 254 (1964)>

  2. 2 :  to proceed against in law by filing a libel (as against a ship or goods) <several French ships were libeled in Boston — J. K. Owens>





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