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.

Definitions of defamatory

adj (used of statements) harmful and often untrue; tending to discredit or malign

calumniatory, calumnious, denigrating, denigrative, denigratory, libellous, libelous, slanderous
causing or capable of causing harm

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