This is a rendering of the Greek term ka·ta·la·li·aʹ. The related verb ka·ta·la·leʹo literally means “speak against,” doing so without justification and usually in a malicious or hostile manner. (1Pe 2:12; 3:16) The disciple James linked the expression with wrongful judging or condemning, thus conveying the sense of unjustifiably censuring.—Jas 4:11; compare Ps 50:20.
Backbiters, or persons who speak against others maliciously behind their back, are among those against whom Jehovah’s wrath is directed, and his Word shows that all who continue as such are deserving of death. (Ro 1:18, 28-30, 32) The apostle Paul expressed grave concern that, in addition to other serious wrongs, he might find members of the congregation at Corinth engaging in backbiting. (2Co 12:20) For God’s Word or message to have its full effect on new disciples of Jesus Christ, they must rid themselves of backbiting and all other forms of badness. Only then can the “milk belonging to the word,” Scriptural truths suited to their needs, promote growth to salvation.—1Pe 2:1, 2.