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Tip 18: Are you liable for libel?

Oh, don’t we just love the English language?

There are so many words that can be confusing. Here are some more to add to your list from Gerald J. Alred’s Handbook of Technical Writing:

‘Liable’ means “legally subject to” or “responsible for.”

‘Libel’ refers to “anything circulated in writing or pictures that injures someone’s good reputation.”

When someone’s reputation is injured in speech, the term is ‘slander.’
Sometimes we use the word ‘liable’ when we really mean ‘likely.’ ‘Likely’ means that there is a possibility.

Quiz!
(Choose liable, libel, likely or slander. Use each choice once.)

1. If you hit someone’s car, you are _____ for the damages.
2. You can’t say that about me! That’s _____!
3. I am _____to hit you if you say that again!
4. Our company sued the newspaper for _____.

Answers: 1. liable, 2. Slander, 3. likely, 4. libel