Synonym Chooser

How does the verb vilify differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of vilify are asperse, calumniate, defame, malign, slander, and traduce. While all these words mean "to injure by speaking ill of," vilify implies attempting to destroy a reputation by open and direct abuse.

no criminal was more vilified in the press

Where would asperse be a reasonable alternative to vilify?

The synonyms asperse and vilify are sometimes interchangeable, but asperse implies continued attack on a reputation often by indirect or insinuated detraction.

both candidates aspersed the other's motives

When is calumniate a more appropriate choice than vilify?

While the synonyms calumniate and vilify are close in meaning, calumniate imputes malice to the speaker and falsity to the assertions.

falsely calumniated as a traitor

When would defame be a good substitute for vilify?

Although the words defame and vilify have much in common, defame stresses the actual loss of or injury to one's good name.

sued them for defaming her reputation

When could malign be used to replace vilify?

The words malign and vilify are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, malign suggests specific and often subtle misrepresentation but may not always imply deliberate lying.

the most maligned monarch in British history

When might slander be a better fit than vilify?

The meanings of slander and vilify largely overlap; however, slander stresses the suffering of the victim.

town gossips slandered their good name

When can traduce be used instead of vilify?

While in some cases nearly identical to vilify, traduce stresses the resulting ignominy and distress to the victim.

so traduced the governor that he was driven from office


Thesaurus Entries Near vilify

Cite this Entry

“Vilify.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jun. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on vilify

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