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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for defaming
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The seventh charged him with defaming and scandalizing the witnesses who proved the Popish plot.

    Atrocious Judges John Campbell, Baron Campbell
  • I saw you lying there in Their temple, defaming it in blasphemy by your sleep.

    Eight Keys to Eden Mark Irvin Clifton
  • He would appear to have devoted himself to the task of blackening poor George's character and defaming him.

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • What surprises me was that so little intelligence was exhibited in defaming me.

    Frenzied Finance Thomas W. Lawson
  • You who have been everywhere vaunting your own Prowess, and defaming the Americans as poltroons!

    Benjamin Franklin Frank Luther Mott
  • Then you are likely to give up your plan of punishing the man for defaming and degrading you?

    The Eternal City Hall Caine
British Dictionary definitions for defaming


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 defaming



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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