def·​a·​ma·​tion | \ ˌde-fə-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce defamation (audio) \

Definition of defamation

: the act of communicating false statements about a person that injure the reputation of that person : the act of defaming another : calumny defamation of character a defamation lawsuit

Other Words from defamation

defamatory \ di-​ˈfa-​mə-​tȯr-​ē How to pronounce defamation (audio) , dē-​ \ adjective

Did you know?

Harming someone's reputation in speech with falsehoods is known as slander, and doing the same thing in writing is known as libel (which sometimes includes speech as well). Any ordinary citizen who can claim to have suffered harm as a result of such defamation may sue. So why aren't politicians suing all the time? Because an exception is made for "public persons" (a category that includes most other celebrities as well), who must also prove that any such statement was made with "reckless disregard for the truth". And although, even by that standard, public persons are defamed all the time, most of them have decided that it's better to just grin and bear it.

Examples of defamation in a Sentence

The article was full of lies and defamations. accused the newspaper columnist of defamation of character
Recent Examples on the Web Depp a victory in his defamation case against her, experts told Fox News Digital. Rebecca Rosenberg, Fox News, 12 May 2022 My colleagues on Thursday are hosting a live chat about the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial, featuring Emily D. Baker, the former L.A. deputy district attorney who has been tracking the defamation case. Justin Raystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 Mel B stopped by Piers Morgan’s new U.K. talk show on Monday (May 9) and weighed in on the defamation case happening between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard. Glenn Rowley, Billboard, 10 May 2022 Last year, Jones lost a defamation case filed by the parents of children killed in the 2012 Newtown, Connecticut, school shooting over Jones’ repeated claims that the shooting was fake. Kelvin Chan, Chicago Tribune, 10 May 2022 The company is also producing films on subjects including cryptology, Congress and the unfolding defamation case brought by Johnny Depp against his ex-wife, the actress Amber Heard. New York Times, 10 May 2022 The trial of Depp's defamation case against Heard entered its 15th day on Thursday. Paul Callan, CNN, 9 May 2022 Amber Heard testifies at Fairfax County Circuit Court in the defamation case against her by her ex-husband, Johnny Depp, in Fairfax, Virginia, May 4, 2022. CBS News, 5 May 2022 Jurors were considering the defamation case against Kris Jenner, Khloé Kardashian and Kylie Jenner after a judge threw out the part of the lawsuit against Kim Kardashian in the middle of deliberations. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, 2 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'defamation.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of defamation

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for defamation

see defame

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The first known use of defamation was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

17 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Defamation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for defamation


de·​fa·​ma·​tion | \ ˌde-fə-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce defamation (audio) \

Legal Definition of defamation

1 : communication to third parties of false statements about a person that injure the reputation of or deter others from associating with that person — see also libel, slander, New York Times Co. v. Sullivan — compare disparagement, false light, slander of title
2 : a defamatory communication every repetition of the defamation is a publication— W. L. Prosser and W. P. Keeton

More from Merriam-Webster on defamation

Nglish: Translation of defamation for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of defamation for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about defamation


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