Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Wikipedia.
A description applied in Libel and Slander actions, as well as in those alleging invasion of privacy, to anyone who has gained prominence in the community as a result of his or her name or exploits, whether willingly or unwillingly.
If a plaintiff in a libel or slander action qualifies as a public figure, he or she must show that the libelous or slanderous conduct of the defendant was motivated out of actual malice as required in the case of new york times co. v. sullivan, 376 U.S. 254, 84 S.Ct. 710, 11 L.Ed.2d 686 (1964).
n. in the law of defamation (libel and slander), a personage of great public interest or familiarity like a government official, politician, celebrity, business leader, movie star, or sports hero. Incorrect harmful statements published about a public figure cannot be the basis of a lawsuit for defamation unless there is proof that the writer or publisher intentionally defamed the person with malice (hate). (See: defamation, libel, slander)