Definition of calumny
- denounced his opponent for his defamatory insinuations and calumny
- He was the target of calumny for his unpopular beliefs.
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They uttered calumnies against him.
He was the target of calumny for his unpopular beliefs.
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Calumny made an appearance in these famous words from Shakespeare's Hamlet: "If thou dost marry, I'll give thee this plague for thy dowry: be thou chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee to a nunnery, go." The word had been in the English language for a while, though, before Hamlet uttered it. It first entered English in the 15th century and comes from the Middle French word calomnie of the same meaning. Calomnie, in turn, derives from the Latin word calumnia, (meaning "false accusation," "false claim," or "trickery"), which itself traces to the Latin verb calvi, meaning "to deceive."
First Known Use: 15th centurySee Words from the same year
: an untrue statement that is made to damage someone's reputation; also : the act of making such statements
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