defamatory statement; slander; false negative thing said about someone
A disturbing rumor about me is circulating these days, but I want you to understand that it is a libel.
libellus (a little book, pamphlet, petition, written accusation) (Latin)
First LIE about somebody and then ring the BELL to let everyone know! libel is close to label. WE always tend to LABEL people by their shortcomings, thus libel=defamatory statement