1. A brief writing of any kind, especially. A declaration, bill, certificate, request, supplication, etc. A libel of forsaking divorcement (Wyclif (Matt. V. 31))
2. Any defamatory writing; a lampoon; a satire.
3. A malicious publication expressed either in print or in writing, or by pictures, effigies, or other signs, tending to expose another to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. Such publication is indictable at common law.
The term, in a more extended sense, includes the publication of such writings, pictures, and the like, as are of a blasphemous, treasonable, seditious, or obscene character. These also are indictable at common law.
4. The crime of issuing a malicious defamatory publication.
5. A written declaration or statement by the plaintiff of his cause of action, and of the relief he seeks.
Origin: L. Libellus a little book, pamphlet, libel, lampoon, dim. Of liber the liber or inner bark of a tree; also (because the ancients wrote on this bark), paper, parchment, or a roll of any material used to write upon, and hence, a book or treatise: cf. F. Libelle.