Slander: Definition and Meaning

Although everyone should have the fundamental right to talk freely, that right does not always apply to you. In reality, most legal systems place restrictions on what you can say, particularly if you make untrue accusations against someone. Slander is the term used to describe verbal slander. When someone uses their words to harm another person's image or way of life, this is called defamation.

Meaning of Slander

False accusations made by one party against another are known as defamation. Slander is verbally expressed with the purpose of spoiling the target of the declarations. Simply stated, slander is a legal term for defamation, which is defined as the act of harming a person's or organization's reputation by spreading false information that is damaging to their reputation to one or more individuals.

To qualify as slander, a claim must be presented as truth rather than opinion. A third person must hear the declaration. Making claims that you know to be false has repercussions. Defamation is covered by tort law, which is the area of the law that handles legal cases. It seeks to correct misconduct committed against parties and may grant them financial restitution. As a result, anyone who has been the target of defamatory remarks, whether they were spoken or written, may be able to argue their case in civil court. You might be required to give the petitioner compensatory damages if you are proven guilty of slander.

However, a few requirements for slander are −

False Statement

Speaking negatively about someone in public does not always constitute defamation. To qualify as defamation, the claim must be untrue. How about beliefs? Even though publicly airing one's negative opinions of another person is upsetting and might harm that person's image, it is not legally considered a false statement. The assertion must be factual in order to be false.


Publicly speaking, however, does not always imply that the remark was delivered in front of a large audience or on a podcast. For the false and damaging remark to be deemed slander, only one witness needs to be present.

Damaging to One’s Reputation

The destruction it can cause in a person's life is another element of slander that can be challenging to prove. For instance, the court would probably not view it as a serious case of slander if someone openly disparaged another person but the impact of the remarks was only minor. Let's assume, however, that two restaurants in the same town are in direct rivalry with one another, and one of the owners chooses to spread the rumor that the rival restaurant serves expired food when, in fact, this is not the case at all. Only if the victim could demonstrate that they suffered financial loss as a result of the false claims would the remark be deemed slanderous.


It was entirely unreasonable for the person to speak poorly of the victim, which is what it means when a statement is unprivileged. Unprivileged remarks are those that are uttered in a random fashion and without any context. It may, however, be considered privileged if a journalist or reporter makes a claim about a public figure that appears to be untrue and defamatory because it is part of their duty to publicly research and comment on political situations. If you are uncertain, it is best to consult a lawyer, as unprivileged statements can be challenging to recognize.

What is a Slander Lawsuit?

You have the right to sue someone for defamation if they have disparaged you. When someone harms you as a result of making a false statement about you to a third party, that is when defamation happens. Due to the fact that defamation is a tort and a legal wrong, you are able to sue the offender for financial compensation.

When can One File a Slanderous Lawsuit

The following circumstances give rise to defamation claims −

  • You suffered harm as a result of a prospective defendant's verbal fabrication of facts.

  • You can demonstrate with your proof that you were the victim of slander.

  • The window of opportunity to file a case is still open.

Slander Per Se

In most slander cases, you must show the false statement was actually harmful to your reputation. However, some statements are so obviously damaging that you can prove harm simply by showing the defendant made the claim falsely. This is called slander per se. Per se means the statement speaks for itself. Merely showing it was uttered is sufficient.

The following are some frequent instances of remarks that would be regarded as slander per se −

  • Claiming you are guilty of a crime

  • Claiming you engaged in sexual misconduct or adultery

  • Claiming that you violated professional ethics


There are two main slander arguments that defendants may use to shield themselves from responsibility in a slander case.

  • Truth: You cannot prevail in a slander case if the defendant demonstrates that the remark, they made was true. The truth is the ultimate defense against slander.

  • Opinion: You cannot be awarded damages if the defendant demonstrates that the statement was an opinion rather than a statement of truth.

Is Slander Illegal

Slander is unlawful because it may lead to legal action being taken against the slanderer. Making deliberately false and damaging claims about someone is against the law. If a liar's statements have hurt the target's image or resulted in monetary loss, legal action may be taken against them. Slander is not regarded as a crime in some jurisdictions, such as the UK. But it's regarded as a legal wrong. (tort). Slanderers are always held responsible for their actions, and those who have been the target of slander have the right to sue those responsible and receive damages for any harm done.


Slander is a type of defamation that harms someone's image by saying roughly untrue about them. Slander, in its widest sense, describes untrue and incorrect claims made by one party in contradiction of another. Slander is verbally expressed with the intention of bringing the intended person or business into disrepute.

Briefly stated, slander is a legal word used to describe verbal defamation or the act of damaging someone's image by spreading rumors that may have humiliating and demeaning effects.


Q1. What do you mean by Strict Liability?

Ans. A person is held legally accountable for the effects of their actions even in the absence of negligence or criminal intent on their part under the "strict liability" standard of liability.

Q2. Define the term Due diligence?

Ans. A reasonable individual or business is typically expected to conduct due diligence before entering into a contract or agreement with another party or performing an act that requires a certain level of care.

Q3. What is Vicarious liability?

Ans. In accordance with the common law doctrine of respondent superior, which holds superiors accountable for the actions of their subordinates, vicarious liability is a type of strict, secondary liability that encompasses any third party that had the "right, ability, or duty to control" a violator's actions.

Updated on: 10-Apr-2023


Kickstart Your Career

Get certified by completing the course

Get Started