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defame (verb) damage the reputation of; slander; malign.
When you spread bad talk about someone, because you want them to be known as a bad person, you defame them. That is, you slander them. You tell lies about them to make people believe that they are not the good person they take them for. To malign someone is to defame them.
- Galileo, the genius of Physics, paid the price of defaming his contemporary physicists by facing the wrath of the Church, which ordered Galileo to be imprisoned until death.
- In a democracy, the press can misuse its power of freedom of expression, if, in a bid to increase its circulation, a newspaper defames a well-known and famous person, by writing all bad things about them without any basis.