Defamatory is a word used to describe statements that are untrue, slanderous, or libelous. Defamatory language often consists of harmful lies.
Defamatory words — that is, words which defame — are words that can cause real damage. If someone said you were a secret unicorn hunter, that would be a silly, not defamatory, lie. If someone said you were a thief or a traitor, and you weren't, that would be defamatory. Public figures, like celebrities and politicians, are especially sensitive to defamatory statements about them.