DEFINITION of 'Slander'

Oral or spoken defamation. Slander is the act of harming one person’s reputation by telling one or more other people something that is untrue about that person.

Slander can be the basis for a lawsuit and is considered a civil wrong (tort).

BREAKING DOWN 'Slander'

Slander represents the verbal or spoken version of defamation. Defamation occurs when someone’s words cause harm to another person’s reputation or livelihood.

Slander is different from libel (written or broadcast defamation). Slander is considered more temporary than libel since it involves speech and is not written or published.

Although broadcast typically involves spoken words, it is considered libel because in theory it reaches a large audience just as written words do, making it less temporary.

For slander to occur, the statement made must be presented as fact, not opinion. In addition, the statement must be made to a third party.

In the case of public figures, proving slander also requires the public figure to prove the statement was made “with malice.”

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