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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Marquez’s suit also lists anyone who has worked with Gibson to defame Marquez, though none are named., "Joey Gibson dared antifa member to sue him. So he is.," 3 June 2019 The former dean of Temple University’s Fox School of Business is suing the school for allegedly defaming his character by blaming him for an M.B.A. rankings scandal that involved fake student-test scores. Kelsey Gee, WSJ, "Former Dean Sues Temple University After M.B.A. Rankings Scandal," 2 May 2019 Many federal contractors including Palantir and Dell have quietly settled with Labor to avoid being barred from government grants and defamed in legal filings. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Discriminating Against Oracle," 13 Feb. 2019 The judge may also consider separating Daniels' complaint that Cohen defamed her from a complaint against Trump and a shell company Cohen used regarding the hush agreement. Katelyn Polantz, CNN, "Stormy Daniels' lawyer pushes back on Cohen's 'blanket' Fifth Amendment claims," 26 Apr. 2018 She was arrested in October in 2016 and subsequently sentenced to 10 years in prison for defaming the Vietnam’s communist government. James Hookway, WSJ, "Free More Dissidents, U.S. Asks Vietnam, After ‘Mother Mushroom’ Is Released," 18 Oct. 2018 Authorities say Jarrod Ramos, 38, made threats against the Capital Gazette, accusing the newspaper of defaming him in a column that described him pleading guilty to harassing a woman over social media. Justin Wm. Moyer And Rachel Chason, Washington Post, "Newsrooms observe a moment of silence to honor Capital Gazette victims," 5 July 2018 On top of this, anyone even vaguely familiar with how respectable Washington defamed Judge Robert Bork and grossly distorted his record during his Supreme Court hearings further appreciates that incivility didn’t start when Mr. Trump came to town. William Mcgurn, WSJ, "Playing the Civility Card," 10 Sep. 2018 Russian tech guru Aleksej Gubarev claimed that his companies, Webzilla and XBT Holding, were defamed after Buzzfeed published the 35-page unverified dossier authored by Christopher Steele in January 2017. Cyd Upson, Fox News, "Grassley demands to see ex-spy Christopher Steele's videotaped deposition," 9 Aug. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about defame

Statistics for defame

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for defame

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for defame



English Language Learners Definition of defame

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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on defame

What made you want to look up defame? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


having a desire to acquire more things

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words for Summer: A Quiz

  • a closeup of a sunflower
  • Which of the following words means “of or relating to summer”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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