slander (n.)

late 13c., sclaundre, "state of impaired reputation; disgrace or dishonor;" c. 1300, "a false tale or report spread maliciously; the fabrication and dissemination of false tales to discredit someone," from Anglo-French esclaundre, Old French esclandre "scandalous statement," alteration ("with interloping l" [Century Dictionary]) of escandle, escandre "scandal," from Latin scandalum "cause of offense, stumbling block, temptation" (see scandal).

It is attested from mid-14c. as "action or situation that brings shame or disgrace;" late 14c. as "a bad situation, evil action" and in reference to a person causing such a state of affairs.

The injury [slander] consists in falsely and maliciously charging another with the commission of some public offense criminal in itself, and indictable, and subjecting the party to an infamous punishment, or involving moral turpitude, or the breach of some public trust, or with any matter in relation to his particular trade or vocation, and which, if true, would render him unworthy of employment ; or, lastly, with any other matter or thing by which special injury is sustained. [James Kent, "Commentaries on American Law," 1844]

slander (v.)

late 13c., sclaundren, "defame, caluminate, accuse falsely and maliciously," from Anglo-French esclaundrer, Old French esclandrer, from Old French esclandre "scandalous statement" (see slander (n.)). Related: Slandered; slandering; slanderer. In early biblical translations also sometimes closer to the Latin literal sense, or with a notion of "stumbling block to faith, grace, etc."

And who euer schal sclaundre oon of these litle that bileuen in me, it were betere to hym that a mylne stoon of assis were don aboute his necke, and he were cast in to the see. [Mark ix.42]

Where KJV has "And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea."

updated on December 16, 2022