Definition of calumny
1 : a misrepresentation intended to harm another's reputation denounced his opponent for his defamatory insinuations and calumny
2 : the act of uttering false charges or misrepresentations maliciously calculated to harm another's reputation He was the target of calumny for his unpopular beliefs.
calumniousplay \kə-ˈləm-nē-əs\ adjective
calumny was our Word of the Day on 12/10/2014. Hear the podcast!
Examples of calumny in a Sentence
They uttered calumnies against him.
He was the target of calumny for his unpopular beliefs.
Did You Know?
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."
Origin and Etymology of calumny
Middle English calumnye, from Medieval French & Latin; Medieval French calomnie, from Latin calumnia, from calvi to deceive; perhaps akin to Old English hōlian to slander, Greek kēlein to beguile
First Known Use: 15th century
CALUMNY Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of calumny for English Language Learners
: an untrue statement that is made to damage someone's reputation; also : the act of making such statements
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up calumny? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).