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

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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 Newsmax also reached a settlement with Coomer, who dropped the company from the defamation lawsuit in which the Trump campaign and lawyers Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani are also defendants, according to Business Insider. Jeremy Beaman, Washington Examiner, "Newsmax apologizes to Dominion executive who sued over 2020 election allegations," 30 Apr. 2021 Kim sued the Texas Tribune in a $10 million defamation lawsuit after the nonprofit outlet labeled her comments racist. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "The Korean American woman vying for a Texas House seat is ready to take on the Chinese Communist Party," 17 Apr. 2021 Umpire Joe West was awarded $500,000 in a defamation lawsuit against a former player who accused him of taking a bribe. Laura L. Davis, USA TODAY, "Don't panic," 13 Apr. 2021 Many of those fraud claims involve Dominion voting machines, and the company has filed a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit against Powell for spreading those claims and alleging them in court. Alison Durkee, Forbes, "Sidney Powell’s Admission In Dominion Case Could Haunt Her In Michigan As State AG Makes New Move For Sanctions," 7 Apr. 2021 The marches happened on the same day that Mr. Porter started a defamation lawsuit against the Australian Broadcasting Corporation over an online article about the 33-year-old assault accusation. New York Times, "‘Enough Is Enough’: Thousands Across Australia March Against Sexual Violence," 15 Mar. 2021 Admissions by former Trump campaign attorney Sidney Powell in a massive defamation lawsuit may imperil her efforts to avoid sanctions in a federal Michigan elections case. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan AG Dana Nessel using Sidney Powell's words against her in pursuit of sanctions," 7 Apr. 2021 According to the lawyers, the debunked claim that Dominion’s voting machines led to inaccurate vote tallies has caused damages to the company that could result in a defamation lawsuit. Washington Post, "Dominion says ex-Michigan state senator’s election fraud claims ‘successfully duped thousands of people’," 5 Apr. 2021 Feehan is represented by Sidney Powell, who is now the target of a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit by Dominion Voting Systems, the maker of the voting machines in question. Patrick Marley, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Gov. Tony Evers seeks $250,000 from Trump and GOP official to pay for legal fees in 'frivolous' election lawsuits," 1 Apr. 2021

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.

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First Known Use of defamation

14th century, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for defamation

see defame

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Time Traveler for defamation

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for defamation

Last Updated

5 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Defamation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for defamation



English Language Learners Definition of defamation

formal : the act of saying false things in order to make people have a bad opinion of someone or something : the act of defaming someone or something


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

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