- defamation by written, printed, or broadcast words or pictures: Intentionally or knowingly posting content that constitutes libel is prohibited.Compare slander (def. 3).
- the act or crime of publishing or broadcasting a defamatory statement:The author was convicted of libel and sentenced to a yearlong jail term.
- a formal written declaration or statement, as one containing the allegations of a plaintiff or the grounds of a charge.
Origin of libel
words often confused with libel
OTHER WORDS FROM libelin·ter·li·bel, verb (used with object), in·ter·li·beled, in·ter·li·bel·ing or (especially British) in·ter·li·belled, in·ter·li·bel·ling.un·li·beled, adjectiveun·li·belled, adjective
Words nearby libel
LIBEL VS. SLANDER
What's the difference between libel and slander?
Libel and slander are both forms of defamation—the act of attacking someone’s character or reputation, especially by making false statements about them. The difference is that such statements are considered slander when they are simply spoken in the presence of other people, whereas they are considered libel when they are published or broadcast in some way, such as being written in an article, spoken on TV, or printed on a sign that’s posted in a public place.
Both words can also be used as verbs meaning to defame someone in such a way. In a legal context, libel and slander can both be considered crimes. For an action to be considered libel or slander, it must be proven to have done some damage to a person’s reputation. Slander is often much harder to prove because it involves simply saying something, whereas libel often involves a permanent record of the statement.
You can remember the difference by thinking about the first letter of each word: slander typically involves speaking, while libel typically involves a lasting document of what was said.
Here’s an example of libel and slander used correctly in a sentence.
Example: The court determined that the defendant’s statements constituted slander, but did not rise to the level of libel since they were not published or broadcast.
Want to learn more? Read the full breakdown of the difference between libel and slander.
Quiz yourself on libel vs. slander!
Should libel or slander be used in the following sentence?
The magazine was sued for _____ after printing false accusations.
How to use libel in a sentence
Yet under Alabama’s strict libel laws, Sullivan still won his lawsuit, with a jury awarding him $500,000 in damages, the largest libel verdict in the United States at that time.
This decision revolutionized libel law and has guided how the Supreme Court and lower courts have interpreted the First Amendment in the subsequent decades.
By 1961, the Times confronted $7 million in potential libel judgments and the possibility of bankruptcy.
In it, the Supreme Court said that even if a news report about a public figure was false, it couldn’t be the basis for a libel judgment unless it showed “reckless disregard” for the truth.The problem with cheering for the Dominion lawsuit against Fox News|Margaret Sullivan|April 1, 2021|Washington Post
There is no reason that these platforms should not be held to the same libel standards as print publishers, broadcasters, or cable channels.Now is not the time to repeal Section 230, but it should be soon|jakemeth|December 30, 2020|Fortune
The McCann family is battling Amaral for damages in an ongoing libel case in Portugal.Investigation Into Madeleine McCann Disappearance Reopened in Portugal|Barbie Latza Nadeau|October 24, 2013|DAILY BEAST
A libel suit reverses the roles of plaintiff and defendant; the former must defend itself against the latter's charges.
Yitzhar spokesman says the settlement 'has won a number of libel suits against media groups and the Israel Police.'Slim Majority Of Israelis Would Support Peace Deal Referendum|Orly Halpern|July 24, 2013|DAILY BEAST
According to Dershowitz, Corey called Harvard Law School and threatened to sue to the school for libel for his comments.Who Is Angela Corey? From Being Fired to Prosecuting Zimmerman|Caroline Linton|July 15, 2013|DAILY BEAST
The bill aims to protect the IDF from libel by Israel detractors.Jerusalem 'Price Taggers' Damage Jewish, Arab Cars|Orly Halpern|May 24, 2013|DAILY BEAST
As the actions of slander and libel have been described, only two others require notice, mandamus and quo warranto.
If the editor forgets himself, as in the case cited, suit for libel is sure to be brought and often proves a serious thing.British Highways And Byways From A Motor Car|Thomas D. Murphy
Nor is it liable for libel in transmitting a telegram stating that a person had been bought up.
If A writes a libel, and B prints it and C publishes it, the person wronged may sue all jointly, or either one of them separately.
Another bill carried this session made some alterations in the law relating to defamation and libel.The History of England in Three Volumes, Vol.III.|E. Farr and E. H. Nolan
British Dictionary definitions for libel
- the publication of defamatory matter in permanent form, as by a written or printed statement, picture, etc
- the act of publishing such matter
Derived forms of libellibeller or libelist, nounlibellous or libelous, adjective
Word Origin for libel
Cultural definitions for libel
A written, printed, or pictorial statement that unjustly defames someone publicly. Prosecution of libel as a punishable offense puts some measure of restriction on freedom of the press under the First Amendment (see also First Amendment).