Slander Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How to Use It

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If you’re one of the millions of people who kept up with the defamation trial between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard, you’re likely familiar with the word “slander” — but what exactly does it mean? We’ll tell you.

Read on as we explore the word slander to uncover its definition, origin, synonyms, and more. By the end of this post, you should have a much better understanding of this complex term and even feel comfortable using it in a sentence. 

What Is the Definition of Slander?

To best help you understand the word slander, we’ve compiled a shortlist of dictionary definitions for you to review below:

  • The Collins Dictionary says slander is an untrue spoken statement about someone which is intended to damage their reputation. 
  • According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the word slander can be defined as false misrepresentations that defame another’s image.  
  • The Legal Information Institute provided by Cornell Law School defines slander as a false statement — usually made orally — which defames another individual, AKA hurts a person’s reputation. 

After reviewing the definitions listed above, we can conclude that the term slander refers to false accusations made by one party against another.  

What Is the Origin of the Word Slander?

The history behind our word of the day is a bit fuzzy, but the term slander is believed to have made its first appearance sometime around the 13th century. 

Slander derives from Old French esclandre and Ancient Greek σκάνδαλον —  or skándalon — meaning “scandal,” as well as Late Latin scandalum, meaning “stumbling block, temptation or offense.”

What Are the Synonyms and Antonyms of Slander?

Now that you understand the meaning behind the word slander, let’s open a thesaurus to take a peek at a few synonyms and antonyms. 

A synonym is a word or phrase that has the same — or nearly the same — meaning as another word. Synonyms of slander include:

  • Defamation
  • Scandal
  • Case a slur on
  • Disparagement
  • Obloquy
  • Libel
  • Defame
  • Smear
  • Misrepresentation
  • Muckrake
  • Dishonor
  • Calumny
  • Asperse
  • Speak evil of
  • Scandalize
  • Slur
  • Dish-the-dirt
  • Plaster
  • Blackwash

An antonym, on the other hand, is a word that means the opposite of another word. Antonyms of slander include:

  • Approval
  • Commendation
  • Compliment
  • Acquiescence
  • Vituperation
  • Flattery
  • Roorback
  • Praise
  • Accolade
  • Kudos
  • Nicety
  • Glorification
  • Applause
  • Worship

How Can You Use Slander in a Sentence?

Our word of the day can be used as a noun or a verb, but do you know how to use it in a sentence? Here are some excellent sentence examples for you to study below:

How dare you slander my good name that I worked so hard for!

You should take this article with a grain of salt because the magazine is widely known for creating false drama that slanders celebrities and athletes to increase sales.

The doctor is now suing the ex-patient for slander.

After tweeting lies all over social media, the defamed actress was charged with slander.

Due to a reputation that was besmirched by slander, John is a bit of a homebody.

If you don’t get my name out of your mouth, I will sue you for slander.

The candidate’s attempts to slander her rival with horrific lies backfired and ultimately cost her the campaign.

Because Mickey wanted Ron’s job, he tried to slander him at the office by spreading mean rumors about Ron’s past alcohol issues.

Arguably, the biggest tool for slander is Facebook.

Slander is spoken defamation, whereas libel is printed or broadcast defamation.

The judge told me that most of the civil cases he sees involve slander.

What Are Translations of Slander?

When used as a noun, slander can be defined as an unsupported or false, malicious statement — especially one that defames a person’s reputation. Translations of the noun slander include:

  • Italian — diffamazione 
  • Japanese — 名誉毀損
  • Korean — 비방
  • European Portuguese — calúnia 
  • British English — slander
  • Spanish — calumnia 
  • Thai — การให้ร้ายป้ายสี, คำพูดให้ร้าย
  • American English — slander 
  • Brazilian Portuguese — calúnia 
  • Chinese (simplified) — 诽谤 参较 (libel)
  • European Spanish — calumnia 
  • French — calomnie 
  • German — Verleumdung

When used as a transitive verb, the word slander means to defame. Translations of the verb slander include:

  • American English — slander  
  • Brazilian Portuguese — caluniar 
  • Chinese (simplified) — 诽谤 参较 (libel)
  • Italian — diffamare 
  • Japanese — 中傷する
  • Korean — 중상모략하다
  • European Portuguese — caluniar 
  • Spanish — calumniar 
  • Thai — ให้ร้ายป้ายสี
  • European Spanish — calumniar 
  • British English — slander
  • French — calomnier 
  • German — verleumden

What’s Needed to Prove Slander?

Thinking about suing someone for smearing your good name? In a slander lawsuit, you must prove the following:

  • Someone made an untrue, defamatory statement about you knowing it was a false statement
  • The statement doesn’t fall in any privileged category or scenario
  • The individual who published the statement acted negligently and did so with malicious intent. 
  • You were harmed by the defamatory statement

Filing a lawsuit for slander is very similar to filing other lawsuits. Generally speaking, you will take the following steps listed below:

  • File a complaint
  • Serve the complaint to the defendant
  • Perform discovery
  • Attend settlement negotiations

You might be able to settle the case without having to go to trial. So be sure to hire an experienced lawyer and trust their advice.


The noun slander can be defined as an abusive attack on a person’s good name and character as well as words falsely spoken that damage the reputation of another. It can also be used as a verb meaning defame. 

Unlike libel (a defamatory statement that is written), damages from slander aren’t presumed and must be proven by the person or company suing via an oral statement. 

That said, it’s much harder to sue for slander as opposed to libel because the plaintiff also needs to prove actual malice in addition to the other elements like a false statement purporting to be fact and fault amounting to at least negligence. 


Slander definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary

SLANDER : definition | The Cambridge English Dictionary

Slander | Wex | US Law | LII / Legal Information Institute