he accused them of maligning an innocent man
defame, slander, libel, blacken someone's name/character, smear, run a smear campaign against, vilify, speak ill of, spread lies about, accuse falsely, cast aspersions on, run down, misrepresent, calumniate, traduce, denigrate, disparage, slur, derogate, abuse, revile
British informal rubbish, slag off
rare asperse, vilipend
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malign, defame, slander, libel, traduce
All these verbs involve making unfair or damaging critical remarks about someone.Malign is a non-legal term for making false or unjustifiable criticisms ( teenagers are much maligned, but the support these youngsters gave was tremendous). One can malign someone unintentionally ( I could be maligning the lad—I haven't seen much of him).To defame someone is to make an unfair critical or accusatory remark about them which will damage their reputation, even if this is not the intention ( he convinced the jurors that he had been defamed by the article).In legal usage, slander and libel are particular forms of defamation: to slander someone is to defame them in speech ( they were accused of insulting and slandering the head of state), whereas to libel someone is to defame them in written form, which is now taken to encompass any ‘permanent’ form, including broadcasting and the Internet ( Samuelson claims he was libelled in the same article).Traduce is a more literary term for the deliberate telling of damaging untruths ( he is traducing his colleagues with his unsubstantiated accusations).