Libel vs. slander

Libel is the use of false, defamatory claims about someone in written or printed form. Slander likewise denotes false statements that damage a person’s reputation, but it is committed orally or in any other transient form. Both words have complex legal definitions and connotations, which we won’t explore here. Legal complications aside, all you need to remember is that libel is written and slander is spoken. Slander is also often used informally as a synonym of defamation. Both words function as both nouns and verbs.



I fail to understand why the credit reporting agencies shouldn’t be exposed to libel suits. If someone spreads harmful information about me that is incorrect, he’s committing a crime. [letter to USA Today]

A libel case brought by Cherie Blair’s lifestyle guru Carole Caplin over her alleged portrayal as ”some sort of sexpot or randy masseuse” got the go-ahead today. [Telegraph]

The French weight loss guru Dr Pierre Dukan is suing a rival dietitian for libel after his protein-rich regime favoured by stars such as Jennifer Lopez was called a dangerous “fantasy”. [Montreal Gazette]


The ancient booze of the Aztecs has been losing its buzz over the past century, the victim of changing tastes, slander—and beer. [Washington Post]

Collectively, they are often slandered, at times in racist stereotypes, as fare gougers or as incompetents, incapable of finding their own shadows without a map. [New York Times]

A Malaysia man has agreed to tweet an apology 100 times over three days after slandering a publishing company on the social media service. [Toronto Sun]

6 thoughts on “Libel vs. slander”

  1. In a written interaction (i.e. a discussion forum), would it not be considered a conversation (even though written) and therefore be slander, as opposed to non-responsive publications, such as newspapers and magazines where it is clearly libel?

  2. This article seems to contradict itself by using an example of slander from social media – written down surely?


Leave a Comment