de·​fame | \di-ˈfām, dē-\
defamed; defaming

Definition of defame 

transitive verb

1 archaic : disgrace

2 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

3 archaic : accuse defamed of witchcraft

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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

That means Daniels’s individual case—who signed what; who defamed whom—could be a catalyst of historic proportions. Amy Chozick, Vogue, "Stormy Daniels Isn’t Backing Down," 28 Aug. 2018 Along the way, Eggert has defamed and harassed my family, friends, my wife’s charitable foundation, the families of the children that foundation helps, and many others. Alexia Fernandez,, "Scott Baio Claims Nicole Eggert Accused Him of Assault to 'Relaunch Her Own Career'," 20 June 2018 His strategy of defaming and lying about our true accusations will cost him further as my defamation case will now be going forward. Gabriella Paiella, The Cut, "Nineteen Cosby survivors on finally getting a guilty verdict.," 27 Apr. 2018 Stephanie Clifford, the former adult-film actress professionally known as Stormy Daniels, filed a lawsuit on Monday against President Donald Trump in Manhattan federal court, accusing him of defaming her in a recent tweet. Nicole Hong, WSJ, "Stormy Daniels Sues Trump for Defamation," 30 Apr. 2018 InfoWars host Alex Jones has responded to lawsuits filed by parents of victims of the 2012 Sandy Hook shooting, saying he himself is being defamed. Leada Gore,, "InfoWars Alex Jones responds to Sandy Hook defamation suits," 19 Apr. 2018 The former business manager for Apollo 11 moonwalker Buzz Aldrin said Tuesday she's being unfairly defamed in a lawsuit accusing her along with two of his children of misusing his credit cards and slandering him. Mike Schneider,, "Buzz Aldrin's former business manager says she's being defamed in lawsuit," 26 June 2018 The claim, filed more than a year after the publication of the dossier that Steele wrote, alleges that its contents defamed Russian billionaires Mikhail Fridman, Petr Aven and German Khan. Katelyn Polantz, CNN, "3 Russian oligarchs sue Christopher Steele," 20 Apr. 2018 In the lawsuit, filed in February of 2017, Pouncey alleges Hunter and Alabama State Department of Education attorney James Ward defamed Pouncey to keep him from being named state superintendent in August 2016. Trisha Powell Crain,, "Will Pouncey lawsuit impact Alabama superintendent choice?," 18 Apr. 2018

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.

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First Known Use of defame

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Statistics for defame

Last Updated

16 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for defame

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

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More Definitions for defame



English Language Learners Definition of defame

: to hurt the reputation of (someone or something) especially by saying things that are false or unfair

de·​fame | \di-ˈfām \
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

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More from Merriam-Webster on defame

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for defame

Spanish Central: Translation of defame

Nglish: Translation of defame for Spanish Speakers

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