- defamation by written or printed words, pictures, or in any form other than by spoken words or gestures.
- the act or crime of publishing it.
- a formal written declaration or statement, as one containing the allegations of a plaintiff or the grounds of a charge.
- anything that is defamatory or that maliciously or damagingly misrepresents.
verb (used with object), li·beled, li·bel·ing or (especially British) li·belled, li·bel·ling.
- to publish a libel against.
- to misrepresent damagingly.
- to institute suit against by a libel, as in an admiralty court.
- the publication of defamatory matter in permanent form, as by a written or printed statement, picture, etc
- the act of publishing such matter
- any defamatory or unflattering representation or statement
- ecclesiastical law a claimant’s written statement of claim
- Scots law the formal statement of a charge
verb -bels, -belling or -belled or US -bels, -beling or -beled (tr)
- law to make or publish a defamatory statement or representation about (a person)
- to misrepresent injuriously
- ecclesiastical law to bring an action against (a person) in the ecclesiastical courts
v.mid-15c., “make an initial statement setting out a plaintiff’s case” (modern sense from 1560s), from libel (n.), q.v. for sense development. Related: Libeled; libelled; libeling; libelling. n.c.1300, “formal written statement,” especially, in civil law, “plaintiff’s statement of charges” (mid-14c.); from Old French libelle (fem.) “small book; (legal) charge, claim; writ; written report” (13c.), from Latin libellus “a little book, pamphlet; petition, written accusation, complaint,” diminutive of liber “book” (see library). Broader sense of “any published or written statement likely to harm a person’s reputation” is first attested 1630s. A written, printed, or pictorial statement that unjustly defames someone publicly. Prosecution of libel as a punishable offense puts some measure of restriction on freedom of the press under the First Amendment (see also First Amendment).