Use the noun calumny to characterize verbal attacks that are meant to destroy reputations or friendships. You've probably seen political ads during election time that rely on calumny to move voters.

Calumny comes from the Latin word calvi, meaning "to trick, deceive," which is why it can also describe falsely accusing someone or quoting them out of context with the intent to do them harm. Some political candidates use this tactic against opponents in the hope that voters will be tricked into thinking that the accusations are true.

Definitions of calumny

n a false accusation of an offense or a malicious misrepresentation of someone's words or actions

calumniation, defamation, hatchet job, obloquy, traducement
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assassination, blackwash, character assassination
an attack intended to ruin someone's reputation
malignment, smear, vilification
slanderous defamation
a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person
words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another
name calling, names
verbal abuse; a crude substitute for argument
epithet, name
a defamatory or abusive word or phrase
slanderous remarks or charges
smear word
an epithet that can be used to smear someone's reputation
Type of:
depreciation, derogation, disparagement
a communication that belittles somebody or something

n an abusive attack on a person's character or good name

aspersion, defamation, denigration, slander
Type of:
strong criticism

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