li·​bel·​ous ˈlī-b(ə-)ləs How to pronounce libelous (audio)
variants or libellous
: constituting or including a libel : defamatory
a libelous statement

Example Sentences

libelous statements about a celebrity for which the tabloid was sued
Recent Examples on the Web The second is that the websites cannot be held legally responsible for most of what their users post online, shielding the companies from lawsuits over libelous speech, extremist content and real-world harm linked to their platforms. David Mccabe, New York Times, 19 Jan. 2023 The jury agreed with the plaintiff’s accusation that five quotations in my article were false and libelous. Janet Malcolm, The New York Review of Books, 24 Sep. 2020 More recently, The Washington Post, CNN and NBC settled lawsuits with the family of a Kentucky teen who alleged that coverage of his 2019 encounter with a Native American protester at the Lincoln Memorial was libelous. Sarah Ellison, Washington Post, 29 Mar. 2023 The principle that the truth cannot be libelous became a bedrock of American free-speech law, and was incorporated into the laws of many states after the U.S. was founded. The Week Staff, The Week, 26 Mar. 2023 This time, the jury concluded that two of the contested quotations were false but decided that neither was libelous., 17 June 2021 And some of that content was libelous. Elizabeth Thompson, Dallas News, 23 Oct. 2020 Not moderating, and thus not knowing about libelous content, was enough to insulate the online portal CompuServe from liability in an important 1991 case that helped give rise to Section 230. Brian Fung, CNN, 24 Feb. 2023 Wolff’s book was attacked for being libelous and malicious; Bolton’s for containing classified information. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 2 July 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'libelous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1619, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of libelous was in 1619

Dictionary Entries Near libelous

Cite this Entry

“Libelous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 May. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants or libellous
: being a libel

Legal Definition


variants also libellous
: constituting or including libel
a libelous magazine article

More from Merriam-Webster on libelous

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