from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A false publication, as in writing, print, signs, or pictures, that damages a person's reputation.
  • n. The act of presenting such material to the public.
  • n. The written claims presented by a plaintiff in an action at admiralty law or to an ecclesiastical court.
  • transitive v. To publish a libel about (a person). See Synonyms at malign.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A written (notably as handbill) or pictorial statement which unjustly seeks to damage someone's reputation.
  • n. The act or crime of displaying such a statement publicly.
  • v. To defame someone, especially in a manner that meets the legal definition of libel.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A brief writing of any kind, esp. a declaration, bill, certificate, request, supplication, etc.
  • n. Any defamatory writing; a lampoon; a satire.
  • n. A malicious publication expressed either in print or in writing, or by pictures, effigies, or other signs, tending to expose another to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Such publication is indictable at common law.
  • n. The crime of issuing a malicious defamatory publication.
  • n. A written declaration or statement by the plaintiff of his cause of action, and of the relief he seeks.
  • intransitive v. To spread defamation, written or printed; -- with against.
  • transitive v. To defame, or expose to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule, by a writing, picture, sign, etc.; to lampoon.
  • transitive v. To proceed against by filing a libel, particularly against a ship or goods.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In admiralty law, Scots law, and English ecclesiastical law, to serve a libel upon; institute suit against; present a formal charge against for trial, as against a clergyman for conduct unbecoming his office, or against a ship or goods for a violation of the laws of trade or revenue. See libel, n., 2.
  • To defame or expose to public hatred or contempt by a malicious and injurious publication, as a writing, picture, or the like; lampoon.
  • Synonyms Defame, Calumniate, etc. See asperse.
  • To spread defamation, written or printed: with against.
  • n. A writing of any kind; a written declaration or certificate.
  • n. In admiralty law, Scots law, and English ecclesiastical law, a writing or document instituting a suit and containing the plaintiff's allegations.
  • n. A lampoon.
  • n. A defamatory writing made public; a malicious and injurious publication, expressed in printing or writing, or by signs or pictures, tending either to injure the memory of one dead or the reputation of one alive, and to expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule.
  • n. The crime of publishing a libel: as, he was guilty of libel.
  • n. In general, defamation; a defamatory remark or act; malicious misrepresentation in conversation or otherwise; anything intended or which tends to bring a person or thing into disrepute.
  • n. Synonyms See asperse and lampoon.
  • n. In law, a petition for a decree in divorce.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the written statement of a plaintiff explaining the cause of action (the defamation) and any relief he seeks
  • n. a false and malicious publication printed for the purpose of defaming a living person
  • v. print slanderous statements against


Middle English, litigant's written complaint, from Old French, from Latin libellus, diminutive of liber, book.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French libelle, from Latin libellus ("petition"). (Wiktionary)



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