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After the lecture had officially ended, the professor surprised his students by defaming the guest speakers he had invited. Which of the following substitutions creates a more negative connotation of the underlined word?

A Vilifying

To defame someone is to damage his or her reputation through words. To vilify is to use words in an abusive way towards someone’s reputation. It is stronger and, so, makes the statement more negative. Gently mocking or embarrassing someone, while close in meaning to defaming, are weaker forms of ridicule and would not give the term a more negative connotation. So "Vilifying" is the correct answer