Short question is: if someone accused another person wrongfully, either intentionally or unintentionally, is there a single verb for this action?

For example, I was supposed to style a title short and nice and with ellipses (the ...) under a photo for a dynamic website, for any photo and any title, and I finished the task. The title is about 80% of the photo's width.

The next day, the title became only 20% wide under the photo on the live website. The program manager said to me in the online chat, "What the hell is going on. I don't know what your definition of short is, man."

It turned out it was one of the two junior programmers forgetting to set some files to be non-cached on the web server. So some files were new, some files were outdated, so it wasn't related to my work, but related to some other people's oversight.

The program manager never said sorry anyway.

In this case, is there a verb that describes what the program manager did. That he "wrongfully accused". In some other language, there is a single verb for it, but I haven't seen such a word in English.

  • An other expression for "wrongfully accused" is "unfoundedly blamed".
    – Graffito
    Nov 23, 2016 at 23:20
  • I can't think of anything better that wrongfully blamed or wrongfully held accountable. Nov 24, 2016 at 2:56

7 Answers 7



to speak harmful untruths about; speak evil of; slander; defame



I was thinking some more about your question, especially the "either intentionally or unintentionally" part. Slander is very intentional. Malign, maybe a little less so, but still maybe too much. Here's another idea, which doesn't assume ill will:

jump to conclusions

If you jump to conclusions, you judge a situation quickly and emotionally without having all the facts: It’s not fair to jump to conclusions about a whole group of people based on one incident.

  • 1
    @BladorthinTheGrey - Thank you for taking a second look. For my part, I will give it some thought and try to find something worthwhile to add. Nov 24, 2016 at 22:20
  • @BladorthinTheGrey - I think I understand now what you were after -- sort of usage notes, something that would help the OP choose among the different options offered, e.g. slander vs. malign. Nov 25, 2016 at 0:30

I think slander is fairly similar to what you're looking for. However, slander doesn't have to be an accusation, and the word usually connotes an intentional lie (although you could slander someone unintentionally).

"Falsely accused" is the phrase I've usually heard in that situation, although that's usually in legal contexts.

  • Defame would cover both libel and slander in civil law but falsely accused tends to apply in the criminal context. Best not conflate civil with criminal law and vice-versa. Jan 19, 2017 at 8:51

framed would get you most of the way there, except for the unintentional part.

Crucify is what I'd use to be honest, because it doesn't necessary imply intention on the accuser's part, but implies a lack of guilt on the accused.


Well, there could be one more word Traduce

Also according to MW:
Choose "traduce" when you want to stress the deep personal humiliation, disgrace, and distress felt by the victim. If someone doesn't actually lie, but makes statements that injure by specific and often subtle misrepresentations, "malign" may be the more precise choice. To make it clear that the speaker is malicious and the statements made are false, "calumniate" is a good option. But if you need to say that certain statements represent an attempt to destroy a reputation by open and direct abuse, "vilify" is the word you want.


Calumniate is the one true word. Here is a fine example from a heated moment in the British parliament (1850).

Have we not, Sir, in this House noble Lords and honorable Gentlemen commanding and serving in yeomanry corps, the enumeration of whose names the impatience of the House prevents me from naming, but many of whom I see around me? And, Sir, such are the men— such are the officers the honorable Member would endeavour to calumniate and designate as useless; but, happily, Sir, his opinions on military subjects can have little weight in this House: I have endeavoured to give my opinion of the yeomanry of Great Britain—

Calumnia in Latin referred to a false prosecution, usually for political purposes.

The Vulgate bible uses the word (Lk 3:14) (calumniam facere is translated as accuse falsely in KJV):

et ait illis neminem concutiatis neque calumniam faciatis et contenti estote stipendiis vestris
And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages.


Impugned as in to impugn: "to assail by words or argument: oppose or attack as false (emphasis added) or lacking integrity - impugned the defendant's character". (Merriam-Webster)


"incriminate" and "inculpate" seem like good fits.

both verbs mean "cause blame to be imputed to" - MW defines incriminate as "to cause (someone) to appear guilty of or responsible for something."

  • 2
    But where's the "falsely" part? Nov 24, 2016 at 4:16

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