Defamation Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Defamation, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Defamation?

n. The act of damaging a person’s reputation by making untrue statements. The remarks are considered libel if printed or broadcast over the media and slander if made orally. The defamation has to be proven to be made with malicious intent opposed to just fair comment when public figures are involved. Unless there is malice, damages for slanderous remarks may be limited to special damages. “Per se” slander and libel can easily lead to large monetary awards and/or punitive damage for the person harmed if the statements were accusations of having committed a crime, having a feared disease, or being incapable of performing one’s occupation. Printed retractions are demanded by most states for defamation and only allow a lawsuit if there is no such admission of error.