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slander

[ slan-der ]
/ ˈslæn dər /
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See synonyms for: slander / slandered / slanders / slanderer on Thesaurus.com

noun
defamation; calumny: The accusations are based on hearsay, rumor, or intentional slander, and remain undocumented and unproved.
a malicious, false, and defamatory statement or report: The writer is spewing a despicable slander against an 87-year-old man, and without a shred of proof.
Law. defamation by oral utterance rather than by writing, pictures, etc.: The plaintiff amended his complaint to add a count of slander arising from the statements made at the board meetings.Compare libel (def. 1a).
verb (used with object)
to utter slander against; defame: Both parties tried to concentrate on public policy issues in their campaigns, rather than slandering their political opponents.
verb (used without object)
to utter or circulate slander: They could find no skeletons in my closet, so their only option was to lie and slander.
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Origin of slander

First recorded in 1250–1300; Middle English noun s(c)laundre, from Anglo-French esclaundre, Old French esclandre, alteration of escandle, from Late Latin scandalum “cause of offense, snare” (see scandal); Middle English verb s(c)laundren “to cause to lapse morally, bring to disgrace, discredit, defame,” from Anglo-French esclaund(e)rer, from Old French esc(l)andrer, esc(l)andir, derivative of esclandre

words often confused with slander

Defamation (and the less common calumny ) are general terms for untrue statements that attack or injure someone’s reputation. Slander and libel, while they are both used generally, are legally more specific: slander is spoken, while libel is written, broadcast, or published. If a statement is true, or is an opinion not stated as a fact, it cannot be considered defamation, and therefore cannot be prosecuted as slander or libel.

OTHER WORDS FROM slander

WORDS THAT MAY BE CONFUSED WITH slander

1. calumny, defamation, libel, slander (see confusables note at the current entry)2. defame, libel, slander
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

SLANDER VS. LIBEL

What's the difference between slander and libel?

Slander and libel and 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, slander and libel can both be considered crimes. For an action to be considered slander or libel, 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 slander and libel 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 slander and libel.

Quiz yourself on slander vs. libel!

Should slander or libel be used in the following sentence?

The magazine was sued for _____ after printing false accusations.

How to use slander in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for slander

slander
/ (ˈslɑːndə) /

noun
law
  1. defamation in some transient form, as by spoken words, gestures, etc
  2. a slanderous statement, etc
any false or defamatory words spoken about a person; calumny
verb
to utter or circulate slander (about)

Derived forms of slander

slanderer, nounslanderous, adjectiveslanderously, adverbslanderousness, noun

Word Origin for slander

C13: via Anglo-French from Old French escandle, from Late Latin scandalum a cause of offence; see scandal
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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