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 ?
A poison pen menace has written to police bosses amid claims he was fitted up.
The defiant business owner said his father immediately went out to purchase four more flags after opening the poison pen letter, which was posted anonymously.
Earlier today, there was also an emailed poison pen letter that sought to discredit Md Othman as someone with vested interest if he becomes the Johor mentri besar, despite him confirming that he will resign from his corporate position if he wins Kukup.
That's the name of a play - where the audience is part of the plot - that the Poison Pen Players will be putting on around the holidays in Florence, Eugene, Elkton and Coos Bay.
THE key suspect in a poison pen letter scandal at the Scottish SPCA has refused to give a handwriting sample to police.
Over at the New York Times, Deborah Blum has inaugurated a new column about chemistry called Poison Pen - and today she is investigating a recent study on metals in lipstick.
But it seems she's never given much thought to what the groom got up to following the disastrous ceremony, until she receives a poison pen letter asking her if she knows what her husband got up to on Christmas night.
Ex-Town striker Joe Harper describes Huddersfield as 'hell on Earth A FORMER Huddersfield Town player has written a poison pen letter to Huddersfield - describing the town as 'hell on Earth'.
It was only after the couple broke up that Dhalla started showing his true colours through threats, including poison pen letters, arson and a hit man, to try to win her back.
A DAD has received a threatening poison pen letter telling him the religious paintings outside his home were an "abomination" and to take them down.
An angry insider at engineering giant SNC-Lavalin has accused the company's former head of construction, Riadh Ben Aissa, of secretly funneling money to members of Libya's Gaddafi family, according to a "poison pen" email obtained by CBC News.
John Spence has posted poison pen letters to the families of the two people he believes are responsible for the fire that killed his two daughters - a crime his son was convicted for.
POLICE are investigating claims that comedian Catherine Tate was targeted by a poison pen letter writer.
ALLAN Sartori, the proprietor of Broad Street's Rocket Club, is the hapless victim of that old fashioned cudgel, the poison pen letter.