de·​fame | \ di-ˈfām How to pronounce defame (audio) , dē- \
defamed; defaming

Definition of defame

transitive verb

1 law : to harm the reputation of by communicating false statements about : to harm the reputation of by libel (see libel entry 1 sense 2a) or slander (see slander entry 2 sense 2) defamed her character
2 archaic : accuse defamed of witchcraft
3 archaic : disgrace

Other Words from defame

defamer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for defame

malign, traduce, asperse, vilify, calumniate, defame, slander mean to injure by speaking ill of. malign suggests specific and often subtle misrepresentation but may not always imply deliberate lying. the most maligned monarch in British history traduce stresses the resulting ignominy and distress to the victim. so traduced the governor that he was driven from office asperse implies continued attack on a reputation often by indirect or insinuated detraction. both candidates aspersed the other's motives vilify implies attempting to destroy a reputation by open and direct abuse. no criminal was more vilified in the press calumniate imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions. falsely calumniated as a traitor defame stresses the actual loss of or injury to one's good name. sued them for defaming her reputation slander stresses the suffering of the victim. town gossips slandered their good name

Examples of defame in a Sentence

He says he was defamed by reports that falsely identified him as a former gangster. of course I want to win the election, but I refuse to defame my opponent in order to do so
Recent Examples on the Web On Wednesday, a Montgomery County jury returned a verdict that found Moore did not defame Corfman in his public denials of her 2017 accusations. Paul Gattis |, al, 3 Feb. 2022 Some posters said the marchers were clearly FBI agents or members of antifa — shorthand for anti-fascists — looking to defame Trump supporters. David Klepper, ajc, 9 July 2022 Heard has countersued, claiming Depp directed his lawyers to defame her in the legal process. CBS News, 19 Apr. 2022 Depp was awarded over $10 million in damages, as a jury found Heard did defame him in the article despite his name never being mentioned in it. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 2 June 2022 The claim: Video shows Palestinians staging the shooting of a child by Israeli soldiers Some social media users have claimed that a video shows Palestinians staging fake violence to defame Israel. Kate S. Petersen, USA TODAY, 23 May 2022 After a 10-day trial in Los Angeles, jurors determined the celebrity family did not defame Chyna and the panel declined to award any damages to her. Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2022 Heard's lawyers say the article is accurate and doesn't defame him. CBS News, 21 Apr. 2022 After a 10-day trial in Los Angeles, jurors determined the celebrity family did not defame Chyna and the panel declined to award any damages to her, the Associated Press reported. Nardine Saad, Los Angeles Times, 2 May 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of defame

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for defame

Middle English, from Anglo-French & Medieval Latin; Anglo-French deffamer, diffamer, from Medieval Latin defamare, alteration of Latin diffamare, from dis- + fama reputation, fame

Learn More About defame

Time Traveler for defame

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near defame




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for defame

Last Updated

29 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Defame.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for defame


transitive verb
de·​fame | \ di-ˈfām How to pronounce defame (audio) \
defamed; defaming

Legal Definition of defame

: to make the subject of defamation

Other Words from defame

defamer noun

History and Etymology for defame

Medieval Latin defamare, alteration of Latin diffamare to spread news of, defame, from dis-, prefix marking dispersal or removal + fama reputation

More from Merriam-Webster on defame

Nglish: Translation of defame for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!