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 Lynch’s investigation centers on alleged attempts by Schar, a real-estate developer, to publicly disseminate information that would hurt or defame Snyder, the people familiar with the matter said. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Former AG Loretta Lynch Joins NFL Probe of Escalating Fight Among Washington Football Team Owners," 22 Dec. 2020 At this point, one may be inclined to ask: If a monument dedicated to those who risked and lost their lives battling against Hitler and General Tojo is not safe from the mob now trying to defame American history, what is safe? Jack H. Burke, National Review, "America’s Last Living WWII Medal of Honor Recipients Are the Example Our Nation Needs," 1 Nov. 2020 Some have even called for monarchy reform, an act unthinkable just months ago in a country where those who defame the king can be sentenced to prison. Fortune, "Huawei said the U.S. couldn’t ‘crush’ it. Trump is starving it instead," 20 Aug. 2020 Snyder has suggested in legal filings that one of those shareholders, Dwight Schar, may be involved in a scheme to defame him. Ken Belson, New York Times, "Washington Hires Former Player as N.F.L.’s First Black Team President," 17 Aug. 2020 Officers learned that the Rocky River woman, 60, had already received a monetary settlement and appeared to be making anonymous social media accounts to defame the resident’s business. cleveland, "Woman says client threatened to knock out her teeth: Highland Heights Police Blotter," 13 Aug. 2020 That same day, Melissa Rolfe conspired with Greene and her campaign to defame the company and promote the falsehood that Rolfe had done nothing wrong and was fired because of her stepson, the lawsuit alleges. Kate Brumback, Star Tribune, "Lawsuit: Campaign and ex-cop's stepmom defamed company," 12 Aug. 2020 The lawsuit also claims that Steve Chronister defamed the women in public statements to the media, specifically in regard to a comment made to the York Daily Record in February of this year, after the PHRC ruling giving the women the right to sue. Taylor Romine And Chandelis Duster, CNN, "Black women sue golf course that called cops alleging they were playing too slow," 23 Apr. 2020 Gottwald sued the singer in 2014, accusing her of defaming him by fabricating a rape allegation in a bid to get out of her recording contract. NBC News, "Dr. Luke scores big victory in ongoing defamation battle with Kesha," 7 Feb. 2020

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

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

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Statistics for defame

Last Updated

31 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Defame.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on defame

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Nglish: Translation of defame for Spanish Speakers

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