- The word “slander” is a fairly old word and represents many different things. The earliest known usage of slander in English dates from the 13th century. The meaning of the word “slander” can be changed based on the category that it is placed in.
In it's most common use, “slander” can mean to damage a reputation, will it be through rumours or general comment meant to harm or injure someone's reputation. Or to pose an ignorant statement towards that person.
During the 1530's religion was the most prominent use of “slander.” Back then, “slander” was the discredit of a religious person, conduct, or of a person who is looked up to. Also, “slander” can be something that hinders the reception of faith or obedience to a god. It can be an occasion of unbelief or of moral lapse. In addition, scandal can be the difficulty in seeing Jesus as the universal saviour.
In common law, the word “defamation” is used to represent “slander.” Defamation is the general term used internationally and is used when it is not necessary to distinguish between “slander and “libel.” The primary difference between those words is that they differ in the from in which the offending material is stated. If it is stated with spoken words or sounds, sign language, gestures and the like, then this is slander.
In terms of someone's social stance “slander” was most popular in the 1630's. It was a discreditable circumstance, event or condition of something. Also, it can be the way that someone acts towards their class, country, position, and so on. As well, “slander” is to offend someone's moral feeling or sense of decency. In addition, “slander” can mean talking about someone without their knowledge of it and without proof that what you are saying actually occurred to said person. Also known as malicious gossip. This “slander” can be used as a form of ruining someone's social stance on purpose. A “slanderous” person can also be a person who is a discredit, disgrace, or scandal to some body or set of persons.
In law, “slander” is much more formal and can be used to take legal action. It is any publication that concerns another person and that is harming to said people. Also, an irrelevant or indecent publication of something derogatory towards the court. “slander” can also be an unpleasant notoriety, which in turn can be exaggerated by an occurrence of malicious gossip. Many people have sued others for slander. For example, a celebrity can sue the press for slander if they release certain information about the celebrity.
The etymology of “slander” comes from the french “esclandre”, which came from the Old French “escandre”. “Escandre” comes from the Latin “scandalum” which means a “cause of offence or stumbling.” Scandalum comes from the Proto-Indo-European root “skand.” “Slander” also comes from the greek “skandalon” meaning "a trap or snare laid for an enemy." The New Testament stated “slander” as being a “trap with a springing device.” In the 1590's the most popular definition of “slander was “malicious gossip.”
“Slander” is a one of those words with several different meaning based on the context of the usage. It's meaning has been changed over time, and will probably continue to change as we move along.
1. Online Etymology Dictionary, “term”,