SLAPP suit


variants or less commonly SLAPP
plural SLAPP suits also SLAPPs
law : a lawsuit alleging defamation that is in reality brought for the purpose of intimidating, burdening, punishing, or harassing the defendant for speaking out against the plaintiff on matters of public interest
SLAPP suits function by forcing the target into the judicial arena where the SLAPP filer foists upon the target the expenses of a defense. The purpose of such gamesmanship ranges from simple retribution for past activism to discouraging future activism.Gordon v. Marrone, 590 N.Y.S. 2d 649 (1992)
The lawsuit looks, feels, and smells like a SLAPP …, a shameful attempt to cut off discussion on a controversial local issue. Developers, with depressing regularity, file SLAPPs to muzzle their critics.Editor & Publisher

Word History


strategic lawsuits against public participation

Note: The acronym was introduced by the sociologist Penelope Canan and environmental lawyer George W. Pring in several publications in the 1980's, as "Studying Strategic Lawsuits against Public Participation: Mixing Quantitative and Qualitative Approaches," Law & Society Review, vol. 22, no. 2 (1988), pp. 385-95.

First Known Use

1989, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of SLAPP suit was in 1989

Dictionary Entries Near SLAPP suit

Cite this Entry

“SLAPP suit.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jul. 2024.

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