in·​fa·​mous | \ ˈin-fə-məs How to pronounce infamous (audio) \

Definition of infamous

1 : having a reputation of the worst kind : notoriously evil an infamous traitor
2 : causing or bringing infamy : disgraceful an infamous crime
3 : convicted of an offense bringing infamy

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Other Words from infamous

infamously adverb

Frequently Asked Questions About infamous

Is being infamous always a bad thing?

Infamous has a small range of meanings, and none of them are ones that most people would care to be described with. It may mean "notoriously evil," "disgraceful," or "convicted of an offense bringing infamy" (infamy is "evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking, or brutal").

Is infamous the opposite of famous?

Infamous is not the opposite if famous. It does not mean "not famous" or "exceptionally famous." It means "having a reputation of the worst kind." Although the in- prefix often indicates negation or gives a meaning opposite to the word it is attached to, it occasionally will have other meanings (such as "inward" and "thoroughly").

What is the difference between unfamous and infamous?

"Although it would appear that both of these words are created by adding a similar prefix to the word famous, they actually have quite different meanings. Infamous means ""notoriously evil"" whereas unfamous simply means ""not famous."" Infamous is by far the more commonly-used of the two. "

Examples of infamous in a Sentence

The most infamous of South America's poisonous snakes are the ringed coral snake and the pit viper. — Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, 2005 Clemens is famous, or maybe infamous, for his brushback pitches and in particular for his penchant for "doubling up," throwing two brushbacks in a row. — Pat Jordan, New York Times Magazine, 4 Mar. 2001 Instead we invoke the infamous dark matter, also known to make up most of the mass of other galaxies (both spiral and elliptical), clusters of galaxies, and the universe. What is it? Your guess may not be quite as good as mine, but almost. — Virginia Trimble et al., Sky & Telescope, January 1995 a city infamous for poverty and crime He committed an infamous crime.
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Recent Examples on the Web The game itself was the first meeting between the two programs since the infamous 16-16 tie in the 1988 Sugar Bowl, when Win Lyle’s 30-yard field goal late kept Syracuse from a perfect season. Tom Green |, al, 7 Sep. 2021 The most infamous of the group, known as Jihadi John, was killed in a drone strike in Syria in 2015. Washington Post, 1 Sep. 2021 Another client of Price’s, a lawyer named Scott Johnson, who is quadriplegic, is perhaps the most infamous of serial litigants. New York Times, 21 July 2021 Ryan Lochte, one of the country's most famous and infamous swimmers, showed up in a familiar spot at the U.S. Olympic swimming trials Friday: at a microphone, on a dais, talking to reporters. Christine Brennan, USA TODAY, 12 June 2021 And here is the famous diamond-ruby-sapphire-emerald flamingo that belonged to the famous—and infamous—Duchess of Windsor. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, 11 June 2021 Among the most infamous is the Hillsville flea market. Laken Brooks, Forbes, 31 May 2021 That included the game-winning, now infamous dagger. Rahat Huq, Chron, 25 Aug. 2021 In that now-infamous press conference, Biden unloosed a farrago of wishful thinking, happy talk, half-truths, and blatant deceptions. Rich Lowry, National Review, 20 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'infamous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of infamous

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for infamous

Middle English, from Latin infamis, from in- + fama fame

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Time Traveler for infamous

Time Traveler

The first known use of infamous was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near infamous



infamous crime

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Statistics for infamous

Last Updated

10 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Infamous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for infamous



English Language Learners Definition of infamous

: well-known for being bad : known for evil acts or crimes
: causing people to think you are bad or evil


in·​fa·​mous | \ ˈin-fə-məs How to pronounce infamous (audio) \

Kids Definition of infamous

1 : having an evil reputation an infamous murderer
2 : evil entry 1 sense 1, bad an infamous crime

Other Words from infamous

infamously adverb


in·​fa·​mous | \ ˈin-fə-məs How to pronounce infamous (audio) \

Legal Definition of infamous

: of, relating to, or being a crime punishable by imprisonment (as a year or more in a penitentiary) that can lead to loss of rights and privileges upon conviction also : convicted of such a crime

More from Merriam-Webster on infamous

Nglish: Translation of infamous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of infamous for Arabic Speakers


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