Definition of libel in English:

libel

Line breaks: libel
Pronunciation: /ˈlʌɪb(ə)l
 
/

noun

1 Law A published false statement that is damaging to a person’s reputation; a written defamation: he was found guilty of a libel on a Liverpool inspector of taxes Compare with slander.
More example sentences
  • The extent of publication is also very relevant: a libel published to millions has a greater potential to cause damage than a libel published to a handful of people.
  • Despite the recommendations of the Faulks Committee, the law of defamation still distinguishes between libel and slander.
  • A statement that a police officer is under is investigation is no doubt defamatory, but the sting in the libel is not as sharp as the statement that he has by his conduct brought suspicion on himself.
Synonyms
defamation, defamation of character, character assassination, calumny, misrepresentation, scandalmongering; aspersions, denigration, vilification, disparagement, derogation, insult, slander, malicious gossip, tittle-tattle, traducement; lie, slur, smear, untruth, false insinuation, false report, smear campaign, slight, innuendo, rumour
informal mud-slinging
North American informal bad-mouthing
archaic contumely
1.1 [mass noun] The action or crime of publishing a libel: she sued two newspapers for libel [as modifier]: a libel action
More example sentences
  • During the 1790s Pitt frequently resorted to seditious libel as a blunt instrument against the reform movement.
  • A third common law offence which may involve strict liability is that of blasphemous libel.
  • Ironically, the action is over a short story concerning a previous libel action.
1.2A false and typically malicious statement about a person.
More example sentences
  • You have therefore published outrageous libels against our client directly to persons whose opinion of our client is critical to their professional reputation and standing.
1.3A thing that brings undeserved discredit on a person by misrepresentation.
More example sentences
  • Maybe we could better ourselves by reaching out to others - and help kill a poisonous libel at the same time.
  • Before classicism can again occupy a central place in our lives, a monstrous libel must first be undone.
2(In admiralty and ecclesiastical law) a plaintiff’s written declaration.
More example sentences
  • The libel laws as they stand militate against doing this, because once a libel writ is issued by a complainant any apology is an admission of liability.

verb (libels, libelling, libelled; US libels, libeling, libeled)

[with object] Back to top  
1 Law Defame (someone) by publishing a libel: the jury found that he was libelled by a newspaper
More example sentences
  • A judge at Cork Circuit Cork yesterday ruled that he was libelled by only two newspapers, and awarded him damages of £5,600.
  • Browne has viciously slandered and libeled me, in the public media, repeatedly.
  • Gilligan's lawyer wrote to the film production company, seeking to ensure that he was not libelled.
Synonyms
defame, malign, slander, give someone a bad name, blacken someone's name, sully someone's reputation, speak ill/evil of, write false reports about, traduce, smear, cast aspersions on, fling mud at, drag someone's name through the mud/mire, besmirch, tarnish, taint, do a hatchet job on, tell lies about, spread tales about, spread scandal about, stain, vilify, calumniate, denigrate, disparage, run down, derogate, stigmatize, discredit, slight; North Americanslur
rare asperse
1.1Make a false and typically malicious statement about.
More example sentences
  • Good point, but a blog item that libels someone will remain on the record, likely archived for a good long time, and a libelous statement left online for even a day puts a blogger at tremendous risk.
  • One cannot say what one likes about people or institutions because one cannot libel anyone.
2(In admiralty and ecclesiastical law) bring a suit against: if a ship does you any injury you libel the ship

Origin

Middle English (in the general sense 'a document, a written statement'): via Old French from Latin libellus, diminutive of liber 'book'.

Derivatives

libeller

noun
More example sentences
  • He made a motion concerning libellers on 19 Feb 1585, and was put in charge of the ensuing committee.
  • There are also found such libellers who dare to call the Church in Russia things too terrible to repeat.
  • Most were libellers and some became editors.

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Word of the day erroneous
Pronunciation: ɪˈrəʊnɪəs
adjective
wrong; incorrect