Defamation Legal Meaning and Definition

Here is a simplified definition of the legal term Defamation.

Defamation (noun): This refers to the intentional act of communicating false statements about a person that harm their reputation. If these harmful statements are spoken, it's called 'slander', and if they're written or broadcast over media, it becomes 'libel'. Proof of malice is needed when public figures are concerned, except for statements made in 'fair comment'. If there is no malicious intent, any compensation for slander may be limited to actual, proven harm ('special damages'). Theories of 'per se' slander or libel deal with false accusations of serious wrongs such as crimes, diseases or professional incompetence, which can lead to considerable compensation and/or punitive damages for the injured party. Most states require printed retractions for defamation, refusing lawsuits if there's no such correction.