English Dictionary

Pioneers in dictionary publishing since 1819

libel (ˈlaɪbəl Pronunciation for libel



  1. (law)
    1. the publication of defamatory matter in permanent form, as by a written or printed statement, picture, etc
    2. the act of publishing such matter
  2. any defamatory or unflattering representation or statement
  3. (ecclesiastical law) a claimant's written statement of claim
  4. (Scots law) the formal statement of a charge


-bels, -belling, -belled, (US) -bels, -beling, -beled (transitive)
  1. (law) to make or publish a defamatory statement or representation about (a person)
  2. to misrepresent injuriously
  3. (ecclesiastical law) to bring an action against (a person) in the ecclesiastical courts

Derived Forms

ˈlibeller, ˈlibelist noun
ˈlibellous, ˈlibelous adjective

Word Origin

C13 (in the sense: written statement), hence C14 legal sense: a plaintiff's statement, via Old French from Latin libellus a little book, from liber a book

Translations for 'libel'

  • British English: libel Libel is a written statement which wrongly accuses someone of something, and which is therefore against the law. NOUNThe company sued him for libel over the remarks.
  • Brazilian Portuguese: difamação
  • Chinese: 诽谤诽誹谤謗
  • European Spanish: calumnia
  • French: diffamation
  • German: Verleumdung
  • Italian: diffamazione
  • Japanese: 名誉棄損
  • Korean: 명예 훼손
  • Portuguese: difamação
  • Spanish: calumnia
  • British English: libel To libel someone means to write or print something in a book, newspaper, or magazine which wrongly damages that person's reputation and is therefore against the law. VERBThe newspaper which libelled him had already offered compensation.
  • Brazilian Portuguese: caluniar
  • Chinese: 诽谤诽誹谤謗
  • European Spanish: calumniar
  • French: diffamer
  • German: verleumden
  • Italian: diffamare
  • Japanese: 中傷する
  • Korean: >명예를 훼손하다문서로
  • Portuguese: caluniar
  • Spanish: calumniar

Example Sentences Including 'libel'

But keeping a good libel lawyer close at hand is proving handy for officers on Canada's largest municipal force.
Globe and Mail (2003)
Even before the press conference they all, without exception, while skirting the laws of libel , had fingered Oliver Vail.
Penn, John Widow's End
He could also consider bringing a libel suit against the former Kensington Palace valet on the grounds of what has already been made public.
Belfast Telegraph (2003)
I loved his lacerations of developers and certain conservation societies, and can just imagine what the libel lawyers have cut out.
Country Life (2004)
Our libel laws are merely the journalistic thread I'm pulling at to unravel this particular garment.
Irish Times (2002)
The media would be quite safe from legal action; one cannot libel the dead.
Harcourt, Palma Double Deceit
This issue arose directly in Belfast High Court in 1980 during the Judge Doyle libel case against the "Economist" magazine.
Belfast Telegraph (2003)
To leave the libel courts free for the Catholic mothers, it should probably be emphasized that Caroline Aherne is joking at this point.
Ben Thompson SUNSHINE ON PUTTY: The Golden Age of British Comedy from The Big Night Out to The Office (2004)
Well, the dead can't sue for libel , and anyway, libel only exists where there is no basis of truth.
Brandon, Ruth Left, Right and Centre


Log in to comment on this word.