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 ?
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.
The Star reported Gan as rebutting the poison pen letter that alleged she misused funds and was absent from the constituency, in which she responded that she had just given birth last month.
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.
His irrelevant references to the Irish nationality, his childish snigger at Stephen being openly gay and in a civil partnership, the neighbours the couple invite back to their home - it was all there from the poison pen of Jackson jottings.
Target: Buchanan is accused of sending the poison pen letter
The court heard Mrs Dunn had taken the poison pen letter to police but the author was never found.
ALLAN Sartori, the proprietor of Broad Street's Rocket Club, is the hapless victim of that old fashioned cudgel, the poison pen letter.
I was horrified to read the article about the poison pen writer in the Gazette (Your Say, 8.6.06).
In a badly spelt letter the poison pen writer said they were 'so glad' planning permission was refused.
Mr Cragg believes a personal computer disk, missing from his home and containing correspondence between himself and Mr Hall, could be in the possession of the poison pen writer as in one letter he mentions it.
Long's father, Bernard, believes the poison pen note is from a Wigan crank seething with hate because his son is doing well with rivals Saints.
The poison pen letter, with the name of a former Sarawak leader and dated March 5, 1990, was said to be disparaging to the Ibans of Simunjan.
ULRIKA Jonsson's gallant young step-brother has rushed to protect her from the poison pen of columnist Vanessa Feltz, who wrote that his sister "needs the limelight like the rest of us need lunch.
And in the same way that Mr Hyde was more forthright, strong, and interesting as Dr Jekyll, so the poison pen letter writer becomes all that he or she believes himself to actually be when pen gets put to paper.
The poison pen political writers make the average Welsh person into a racist.