poison pen

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poison pen

1. adjective Spiteful, malicious, or defamatory in composition, as of a letter or other written work, generally sent anonymously and with the aim of damaging or destroying a person's, group's, or organization's reputation or happiness. Always used before a noun. Often hyphenated. After agreeing to defend the alleged mass-murderer, the public defendant began receiving a large number of poison-pen letters from around the city. We've had enough trouble getting this restaurant up and running without having a poison-pen review like that in the papers!
2. adjective Characterized by, typified by, or inclined toward the writing and sending of such letters or pieces of writing. Always used before a noun. Often hyphenated. The outspoken feminist figure has been the target of a hateful poison-pen campaign by online misogynists who have hidden behind the shield of anonymity to conduct their attacks.
3. noun A disposition, attitude, inclination, or ability typified by the writing and sending such letters or pieces of writing. Every year or so, there is a new piece of diatribe and vitriol from the poison pen of the infamous white supremacist. The poison pen of the oft-feared but well-respected critic has been enough to cause the downfall of more than one virtuoso's career.
See also: pen, poison

poison pen

A writer of a letter, usually anonymous, that is malicious and, sometimes libelous. It may attack either the recipient or a third party. The term, with its companion poison-pen letter, dates from the early 1900s. The poison is figurative, describing the scurrilous nature of the words. David Lodge used it in Changing Places (1975), “I’ve had what I believe is called a poison-pen letter from Euphoria, an anonymous letter.”
See also: pen, poison
References in periodicals archive ?
Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak (PBDS Baru) president Cobbold John Lusoi was released on police bail today after police recorded his statement for posting a poison pen letter on social media.
Stepping up his campaign, David next sends Leanne a poison pen letter asking if she knows where her husband was, and with whom, on Christmas Night.
UPSET: Robert Williams, pictured with his wife Narimane, after he received a poison pen letter telling him to take down his religious paintings, above Picture by DOUG MOODY
POLICE are investigating claims that comedian Catherine Tate was targeted by a poison pen letter writer.
An angry mum who sent a poison pen card to her kids' foster parents was trapped by DNA prints.
At the last minute FitzGerald decided to throw in another offering to Cubela: a poison pen.
Both Silenced and Breathe In Breathe Out mine the same vein but, just when you think it's getting selfindulgent, This Is Not A Prog Song tartly quotes a poison pen reviewer: "They are a German band trying to play the music of Pink Floyd, unable to come up with their own style."
A WOMAN accused of stabbing her husband after a poison pen letter said he was cheating on her walked free yesterday.
A COUNCIL election candidate who had part of her finger bitten off by a dog during her campaign has been the victim of a poison pen letter writer.
The dad-of-three spent four days behind bars in Bedfordshire after a poison pen letter was sent to the boss of a Granada motorway service station.
A PENSIONER accused of a poison pen campaign against his neighbours told police he was a victim of the hate mail, a court heard yesterday.