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

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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 The president has been accused of using his office to try to force the Ukrainian government to defame one of his chief domestic political rivals. oregonlive, "Impeachment rules vote hardens partisan divide in Congress; Donald Trump decries ‘showtrial’," 31 Oct. 2019 Gaye was lambasted in some quarters for defaming the National Anthem. Mike Oliver |, al, "My Vinyl Countdown knocks and knocks on heaven’s door. Let me in. Let me in.," 21 Dec. 2019 On Friday afternoon, the jury found the CEO is not liable for defaming Unsworth. Wired, "Elon Musk's ‘Pedo Guy’ Trial, Uber’s Crime Report, and More Car News This Week," 8 Dec. 2019 Now Dershowitz has filed a counterclaim in federal court, accusing her of defaming him. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Prince Andrew accuser target of suit questioning her claims of forced sex," 11 Nov. 2019 Hatfield said he was investigated and cleared of any wrongdoing, and Gmoser created a hostile work environment and defamed him. Cameron Knight,, "Lawsuit against Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser dismissed," 9 Oct. 2019 Strict lese majeste laws prohibit insulting or defaming the monarchy and carry a prison term of up to 15 years for each count. Helen Regan And Angie Puranasamriddhi, CNN, "Thai King fires palace bedroom guards for 'violent conduct' and adultery," 30 Oct. 2019 The central government has been mobilising Chinese citizens and its propaganda machine to defame and crack the movement. The Economist, "Hong Kong “is a battle for survival and for freedom”," 21 Aug. 2019 In addition, spreading of false information to defame our artist will also face strict legal consequences. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "BTS’s Management Company Has Responded to Those Jungkook Dating Rumors," 17 Sep. 2019

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 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

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Time Traveler for defame

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for defame

Last Updated

12 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Defame.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for defame


How to pronounce defame (audio)

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

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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

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).


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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