Defamation is communication about a person that tends to hurt their reputation. It causes people who read or hear the communication to think less of the person.
The communication must be made to other people, not just to the person it’s about.
If defamation is written, it is called libel. If it is spoken, it is called slander. It can also be a gesture, which is a type of slander.
The law protects your reputation against defamation. If someone defames you, you can sue them for money (called damages) for harming your reputation.
We explain what kinds of communication are considered defamatory, as well as what's involved in suing someone for defamation. See our page on defamation.