‘Slander’ vs ‘Libel’: What’s the difference? Have you ever watched a ton of cop shows and thought you knew everything about the law? Well, this article will put that to the test. This article will be just as much of a lesson in the law as it is a vocabulary lesson. For aspiring lawyers, this might get you your next high score on an exam. For writers and aspiring novelists, this will help you clear up the details of your work and ensure that you’re being as accurate as possible.
In a hurry? Here’s a short overview of what you’ll learn:
As you may be able to tell from the preview, these words seem almost identical in definition both as nouns and verbs. But, when you’re learning the letter of the law, knowing the tiniest distinctions and minute details could mean the difference between winning and losing a case. So how do we know which word to choose?
As the definitions show, both words refer to making a false statement. But the key difference here is how that statement is made.
Note that in many definitions, ‘Slander’ can occur in any medium that is not written—for example, a drawing, a video, or a song. Also, note that since writing itself can be considered an injury to another person, ‘Libel’ is easier to prove.
To clear things up, let’s quickly review what defamation is:
So when someone defames another person, they are doing or saying something to corrupt their image, ruin their reputation, or question their character.
One final important thing to note is that the terms ‘Slander’ and ‘Libel’ only apply to statements that are not true. The words, either written or spoken, have to be lies or rumors.
Now that we’ve taken a look at the difference between ‘Slander’ vs ‘Libel,’ let’s take a deeper dive into their definitions.
According to Oxford Languages, ‘Slander’ is a law term that, as a noun, means:
As a verb, ‘Slander’ can also mean:
A useful tip to remembering that ‘Slander’ is specifically spoken is that both words begin with the letter ‘s.’ While this may seem silly, tools like this are often very helpful in a pinch.
As a verb, the word ‘Libel’ can also mean:
Also, a hint for remembering that 'Libel' applies specifically to written defamation in knowing that the word originates from the Latin 'liber,' which means "book." This can help remind us that things must be written to be considered 'Libel' as opposed to recorded or spoken.
The words of the law aren’t just written down. They often appear in court cases and other formal conversations. In these settings, the last thing you want is to pronounce these words incorrectly. Follow the guides below to ensure you properly pronounce ‘Slander’ vs ‘Libel.’
Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Slander’ as a guide:
Use this phonetic spelling of ‘Libel’ as a guide:
Knowing how words work in real-life circumstances can be the key to mastering them, especially with terms like this with very specific meanings and consequences within the law. Since ‘Slander’ vs ‘Libel’ rely so heavily on how the defamation is delivered, let’s look at some examples of the contexts in which these words may appear.
You may have watched every episode of Judge Judy, but digging into articles like this one is going to be the key to mastering language. When it comes to the law, you have to be very particular, and we hope to set you up with all the details necessary to keep your writing and speech formal and to the letter.
Want a recap? Here’s a review of what was covered:
Want to master more vocabulary terms? Be sure to read about other confusing words to ensure your writing is accurate and precise. Keep learning and paying attention to the intricate details, and nobody will be able to poke holes in your work.
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