verb (used with object), de·famed, de·fam·ing.

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 formsde·fam·er, nounde·fam·ing·ly, adverbun·de·famed, adjectiveun·de·fam·ing, adjective
Can be confuseddefame libel slander

Synonyms for defame Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for defame

Contemporary Examples of defame

Historical Examples of defame

  • 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

British Dictionary definitions for defame


verb (tr)

to attack the good name or reputation of; slander; libel
archaic to indict or accuse
Derived Formsdefamer, noun

Word Origin for defame

C14: from Old French defamer, from Latin dēfāmāre, from diffāmāre to spread by unfavourable report, from fāma fame
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

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