Defamation Definition

A false statement of fact that harms a person's reputation.

If the statement is written, it's called libel. If spoken, it's referred to as slander. Public figures—such as celebrities, famous athletes, political officeholders, and candidates—can win a defamation lawsuit only if they show that a defamatory statement was made with malice, meaning with knowledge that it was false or with reckless disregard for its truthfulness.

(See also: defamation by implication; libel per se)