difference between slander and libel

Difference Between Slander and Libel: Clearing Up the Confusion

When it comes to defamation, the terms “slander” and “libel” are often used interchangeably. However, they have distinct differences that can impact how a case is handled in court. Here’s what you need to know:

What is Slander?

Slander is a type of defamation that involves the spoken word. It refers to the act of making a false statement about someone that damages their reputation. To be considered slander, the statement must be communicated to a third party and must cause harm to the victim’s reputation.

Examples of slander include spreading false rumors about someone’s personal life, making false accusations about their business practices or professional conduct, or falsely accusing someone of committing a crime.

What is Libel?

Libel, on the other hand, is a type of written defamation. It involves publishing false information about someone that damages their reputation. Like slander, the false information must be communicated to a third party and must cause harm to the victim.

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Examples of libel include publishing false news articles or reviews that harm a person’s reputation, making false accusations in a blog post, or sharing false information on social media.

Why the Difference Matters

The distinction between slander and libel matters because each has different legal requirements for proving defamation. In a slander case, the plaintiff must prove that the defendant made a false statement that caused them harm. In a libel case, the plaintiff must show that the defendant published a false statement that caused them harm.

Additionally, the statute of limitations for filing a defamation suit may vary depending on whether the case involves slander or libel. In some states, the time limit for suing for slander may be shorter than that for libel.


In summary, both slander and libel involve making false statements that harm someone’s reputation. The key difference is that slander is spoken, while libel is written. Understanding the distinction between these two terms can help you determine the appropriate legal action to take if you believe that you have been defamed.

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Table difference between slander and libel

Feature Slander Libel
Definition Spoken defamation of character Written or published defamation of character
Form Verbal statements Written or published statements
Scope Only spoken words that damage a person’s reputation Any written, broadcasted or published statement that damages a person’s reputation
Proof More difficult to prove because it relies on witness testimony and can be easily denied by the defendant. Less difficult to prove because the evidence is in print and can be reviewed and verified.
Compensation Typically less severe damages awarded Typically more severe damages awarded