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[dih-feym] /dɪˈfeɪm/
verb (used with object), defamed, defaming.
to attack the good name or reputation of, as by uttering or publishing maliciously or falsely anything injurious; slander or libel; calumniate:
The newspaper editorial defamed the politician.
Archaic. to disgrace; bring dishonor upon.
Archaic. to accuse.
Origin of defame
1275-1325; Middle English defamen (< Anglo-French defamer) < Medieval Latin dēfāmāre, by-form of Medieval Latin, Latin diffāmāre (dē- de- for dif-; compare Latin dēfāmātus infamous) to spread the news of, slander, equivalent to dif- dif- + -fāmāre verbal derivative of fāma news, rumor, slander (see fame); replacing Middle English diffamen (< Anglo-French, Old French diffamer) < Medieval Latin, Latin, as above
Related forms
defamer, noun
defamingly, adverb
undefamed, adjective
undefaming, adjective
Can be confused
defame, libel, slander.
1. malign, disparage, discredit, vilify, derogate, revile, denigrate, backbite. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for defame
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For those who wish to defame you will assert that I am wise, though I am not.

  • I have done nothing to defame your character, in spite of what has passed.

    The Day of Judgment

    Joseph Hocking
  • They not only defame Wilson, but they contend that the part we played in the war has been overestimated.

    Idling in Italy Joseph Collins
  • On this principle they defame, persecute, and destroy every one who displeases them.

    Letters To Eugenia Paul Henri Thiry Holbach
  • No cruelty must ever defame it, no malice, no gross bitterness!

    The Sick-a-Bed Lady

    Eleanor Hallowell Abbott
  • When we tell lies about our neighbor and slander or defame him in our conversation.

    Luther's Small Catechism H. U. Sverdrup
  • We are outcasts from Deity, therefore we defame the place of our exile.

    Imaginations and Reveries (A.E.) George William Russell
British Dictionary definitions for defame


verb (transitive)
to attack the good name or reputation of; slander; libel
(archaic) to indict or accuse
Derived Forms
defamer, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French defamer, from Latin dēfāmāre, from diffāmāre to spread by unfavourable report, from fāmafame
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for defame

c.1300, from Old French defamer (13c., Modern French diffamer), from Medieval Latin defamare, from Latin diffamare "to spread abroad by ill report, make a scandal of," from dis- suggestive of ruination + fama "a report, rumor" (see fame (n.)). Related: Defamed; defaming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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