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 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 But Cosby still is facing several civil actions, including charges from at least eight women who allege that Cosby defamed them through his comments and dismissals of their assault accusations. Helen Murphy,, "Bill Cosby Gives First Interview Since Being Sentenced, Claims Trial Was a 'Set-Up'," 26 Nov. 2019 The trial will not be a traditional libel case because a judge has ruled that Malin, as a public official, did not meet the high bar for proving the newspaper had defamed him. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Press freedom advocates troubled by suit against Iowa paper," 19 Sep. 2019 In particular, despite the presumption in media circles that the dead can't be defamed, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals last September revived a suit against Fox News brought by Rich's parents. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Fox News Admits Error. It's Now Become a Constitutional Issue.," 23 Apr. 2020 In a ruling on Thursday, New York Supreme Court Judge Jennifer G. Schechter ruled that Kesha had defamed Gottwald in the text message to Lady Gaga, noting that Perry has denied the claim and there is no evidence to support it. NBC News, "Dr. Luke scores big victory in ongoing defamation battle with Kesha," 7 Feb. 2020 Jeff Kosmicki and Information Technology Director Dave Brooks -- were defaming and harassing her. oregonlive, "Newberg HR director put on paid leave amid city tumult over job discrimination verdict," 9 Jan. 2020 Of Fusion GPS — the Clinton campaign’s racketeering outfit that loves to slander and defame people and cause them lots of harm? Jerry Dunleavy, Washington Examiner, "Devin Nunes: FBI should have investigated Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS over Russian disinformation," 13 Apr. 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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for defame

Last Updated

14 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Defame.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 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

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