1. a. Verbal abuse directed against a person or thing; detraction, calumny, slander. Formerly (also): {dag}an abusive or calumnious speech or utterance (obs.).
b. Abuse or detraction as it affects the person spoken against; the condition of being spoken against; ill repute; reproach, disgrace, notoriety.
2. A cause, occasion, or object of detraction or reproach; a reproach, a disgrace. Obs.

From our good friends at the OED.

Also, this is a good book about the OED:

“The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary” (Simon Winchester)