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to attack the character or reputation of (a person who is not present).
to speak unfavorably or slanderously of a person who is not present.
Contemporary Examples

A Republican member looks past the current backbiting to the supposed GOP Majority next year.
Paul Ryan Breaks Rank John Batchelor September 25, 2010

Caprica will deliver intrigue, political backbiting and family conflict in television’s first science fiction family saga.
Syfy’s Caprica Daily Beast Promotions January 27, 2010

Of course, now that the reorganization is official, the speculation stops and the backbiting from disenchanted executives begins.
7 Winners, 9 Losers at the New NBC Peter Lauria November 16, 2010

The Koran warns against “backbiting,” and so does the Torah, which calls it “evil tongue.”
When Gossip Is Good, from Scandals to Relationships Allison Yarrow November 21, 2011

Trouble seemed to arise not from big issues like race but from petty gossip and backbiting.
Tupac Shakur’s Race-Killer Prison Pal Talks Michael Daly July 28, 2014

Historical Examples

They were much given to gluttony and drinking; and there was an unthinkable amount of scandal and backbiting and jealousy.
Samuel the Seeker Upton Sinclair

Where does grudge-bearing, backbiting, or uncharitableness come in?
Standards of Life and Service T. H. Howard

The little settlement was a hot-bed of gossip, backbiting, and slander.
A Half Century of Conflict – Volume I Francis Parkman

Preciosa was upon trial for misdemeanor, and I for backbiting.
When Grandmamma Was New Marion Harland

It encourageth ungodly men to the odious sin of backbiting and slandering the most religious, righteous person.
A Christian Directory (Part 4 of 4) Richard Baxter

verb -bites, -biting, -bit, -bitten, -bit
to talk spitefully about (an absent person)

c.1200, bacbitunge, from back (adj. or n.) + biting. Related: back-bite (v.), early 14c.; back-biter (c.1200).

In Ps. 15:3, the rendering of a word which means to run about tattling, calumniating; in Prov. 25:23, secret talebearing or slandering; in Rom. 1:30 and 2 Cor. 12:20, evil-speaking, maliciously defaming the absent.


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