poison pen

(redirected from poison-pen)
Also found in: Dictionary.

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 ?
She said not all letters received were poison-pen letters as there were also letters that had the information on the sender.
The poison-pen letter episode is illuminating in more ways than one.
The poison-pen letter episode also demonstrates that when the Rajapaksas are thwarted in their power-grab, their fury knows no bounds.
They pretended to confide in him about the mysterious poison-pen letter writer and created a fictitious stepbrother and stepson.
A rather subdued Hayley was shocked to find a poison-pen letter through her door telling her that as a Brummie she should leave Ambridge and go back to Birmingham.
Dennie attacked Jefferson with poison-pen brilliance in 1802-1803, but in 1809 he abandoned political discussion.
A Universiti Pertahanan Malaysia (UPNM) student told the High Court here today that he sent poison-pen letters, to the university's top management, instead of approaching them, to inform that Cadet Marine Officer Zulfarhan Osman Zulkarnain was abused because he did not want to receive the same fate as the victim.
When he speaks to Brooks the blacksmith, who also received those threatening poison-pen letters, he thinks he's making a breakthrough in the case.
A NIGHTMARE neighbour who sent poison-pen letters and threw petrol bombs at houses was jailed for eight years yesterday.
Families were driven from their homes, and innocent men became the target for poison-pen letters when they were mistaken for known sex offenders.
We avoid her but I've had a couple of poison-pen letters criticising me for neglecting my "wonderful" mum.
A SILVER-haired pensioner preyed on village neighbours with a 12-year campaign of poison-pen mail and vandalism a court heard yesterday.
Dr Stephen Wedderburn, 48, complained of getting poison-pen letters.
YORKSHIRE have leapt to the defence of Darren Gough after the England hero received a poison-pen letter accusing him of putting country before club.
Ashia was sent a poison-pen warning yesterday - the day after the attack - world record triple jumper.