Even though Joan Jett sang about not minding her bad reputation, most of us don't want others to defame us. To defame is to gossip, even if the story is made-up, with the goal of hurting someone's image.

We usually think of fame as a positive thing. Love, admiration, and people wanting to be like you — it all comes with the territory. The de- in defame means "remove." So if someone tries to defame a person, fame — or a good reputation — is taken away. Celebrities protect themselves from those who want to defame them, arming themselves with lawyers.

Definitions of defame

v charge falsely or with malicious intent; attack the good name and reputation of someone

“"The journalists have defamed me!" "The article in the paper sullied my reputation”
asperse, besmirch, calumniate, denigrate, slander, smear, smirch, sully
destroy or damage seriously, as of someone's reputation
print slanderous statements against
badmouth, drag through the mud, malign, traduce
speak unfavorably about
Type of:
accuse, charge
blame for, make a claim of wrongdoing or misbehavior against

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