mid-15c., "false accusation, slander," from Old French calomnie (15c.), from Latin calumnia "trickery, subterfuge, misrepresentation, malicious charge," from calvi "to trick, deceive."
PIE cognates include Greek kelein "to bewitch, cast a spell," Gothic holon "to slander," Old Norse hol "praise, flattery," Old English hol "slander," holian "to betray," Old High German huolen "to deceive." The whole group is perhaps from the same root as call (v.). A doublet of challenge.
"to raise frivolous objections, find fault without good reason," 1540s, from French caviller "to mock, jest," from Latin cavillari "to jeer, mock; satirize, argue scoffingly" (also source of Italian cavillare, Spanish cavilar), from cavilla "jest, jeering," which is related to calumnia "slander, false accusation" (see calumny). Related: Caviller, cavilling.
c. 1200, "to rebuke," from Old French chalongier "complain, protest; haggle, quibble," from Vulgar Latin *calumniare "to accuse falsely," from Latin calumniari "to accuse falsely, misrepresent, slander," from calumnia "trickery" (see calumny).
From late 13c. as "to object to, take exception to;" c. 1300 as "to accuse," especially "to accuse falsely," also "to call to account;" late 14c. as "to call to fight." Also used in Middle English with sense "claim, take to oneself." Related: Challenged; challenging.
c. 1300, defamacioun, "disgrace, dishonor, ill repute" (senses now obsolete), from Old French diffamacion and directly from Medieval Latin deffamation, from Latin diffamationem (nominative diffamatio), noun of action from past-participle stem of diffamare "to spread abroad by ill report, make a scandal of," from dis-, here probably suggestive of ruination, + fama "a report, rumor" (from PIE root *bha- (2) "to speak, tell, say").
From late 14c. as "the wrong of injuring another's reputation without justification." From early 15c. as "calumny, slander, an instance of defaming."