fa·​mous ˈfā-məs How to pronounce famous (audio)
: widely known
a restaurant famous for its French cuisine
: honored for achievement
a famous explorer
: excellent, first-rate
famous weather for a walk
famousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for famous

famous, renowned, celebrated, noted, notorious, distinguished, eminent, illustrious mean known far and wide.

famous implies little more than the fact of being, sometimes briefly, widely and popularly known.

a famous actress

renowned implies more glory and acclamation.

one of the most renowned figures in sports history

celebrated implies notice and attention especially in print.

the most celebrated beauty of her day

noted suggests well-deserved public attention.

the noted mystery writer

notorious frequently adds to famous an implication of questionableness or evil.

a notorious gangster

distinguished implies acknowledged excellence or superiority.

a distinguished scientist who won the Nobel Prize

eminent implies even greater prominence for outstanding quality or character.

the country's most eminent writers

illustrious stresses enduring honor and glory attached to a deed or person.

illustrious war heroes

Examples of famous in a Sentence

a book about some of the most famous people of the last century the review gushed that the restaurant offered some truly famous Southern-style cooking
Recent Examples on the Web Every inch of the Orthodox church is covered in ornate iconography depicting saints, apostles, martyrs and scenes from the Bible — from Jesus Christ’s most famous miracles to the story of his crucifixion. Lauren Costantino, Miami Herald, 15 Apr. 2024 The most famous of Beecher’s slave auctions was that of a nine-year-old girl named Sally Maria Diggs, nicknamed Pinky. Louis Menand, The New Yorker, 14 Apr. 2024 The painting, arguably the series’ most famous, gorily depicts a group of men, women and children brutally attacking one another. Yahya Salem, CNN, 14 Apr. 2024 Yes, there's a famous 1953 film starring Burt Lancaster. Jim Higgins, Journal Sentinel, 13 Apr. 2024 The daughter of Khloé Kardashian and Tristan Thompson celebrated her 6th birthday on April 12, and her famous mom marked the special occasion with a series of posts shared on her Instagram Stories. Nicholas Rice, Peoplemag, 13 Apr. 2024 His contributions, for example, helped researchers make better sense of one of the field’s most famous unproven conjectures, called the P versus NP problem. Christian Thorsberg, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Apr. 2024 Clifford and his wife have taken strides to shield their children from knowing just how famous their family has become online. USA TODAY, 12 Apr. 2024 Khaled and Mustafa were among the ones shot, but Hosam, then famous for his satirical short stories, managed to escape. Hazlitt, 3 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'famous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin famosus, from fama fame

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of famous was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near famous

Cite this Entry

“Famous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/famous. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


fa·​mous ˈfā-məs How to pronounce famous (audio)
: much talked about : very well-known
famous explorer
: excellent
famous weather for a picnic

More from Merriam-Webster on famous

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!