a. The legally indefensible publication or broadcast of words or images that are degrading to a person or injurious to that person's reputation.
b. An incidence of such publication or broadcast.
2. The written claims initiating a suit in an admiralty court.
tr.v. li·beled, li·bel·ing, li·bels or li·belled, li·bel·ling, li·bels
To publish or broadcast a libel about (a person). See Synonyms at malign.
[Middle English, litigant's written complaint, from Old French, from Latin libellus, diminutive of liber, book.]
libel·er, libel·ist n.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.