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

Essential Meaning of infamous

1 : well-known for being bad : known for evil acts or crimes an infamous traitor a city infamous for poverty and crime
2 : causing people to think you are bad or evil He committed an infamous crime. (humorous) We experienced some of the city's infamous weather.

Full 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

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 of 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 Nothing trumps tagliatelle at Carbone—the setting of Ye’s now infamous fashion shoot for Julia Fox—quite like six miles of sandy beaches and itsy bitsy Skyler bikinis. Alice Newbold, Vogue, 11 Jan. 2022 During his guest segment, Kelly brought up his now-infamous bizarre accent change during one of his first public appearances to LSU fans in early December. Mary Clarke, USA TODAY, 5 Jan. 2022 The now-infamous case dates back to June 7, 1892, when Plessy, a New Orleans shoemaker who was one-eighth Black, purchased a first-class ticket on the East Louisiana Railway and sat in a seat in the car assigned for White passengers. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, 5 Jan. 2022 Instead, there was the now infamous Article 7, a provision that requires merchants to accept Bitcoin—a mandate. Wired, 2 Jan. 2022 In the end, nearly 2,000 bullets were fired, the two robbers were killed, and multiple officers and civilians were injured in the now-infamous showdown, which helped usher in the modern era of militarized police. Connor Sheets, Los Angeles Times, 30 Dec. 2021 Still, looking at Drakeo’s music for the prior generation of West Coast MCs’ sense of realism, instead of profoundly imaginative craftsmanship, is exactly what the government tried to pull during his now-infamous trial. Will Dukes, Rolling Stone, 22 Dec. 2021 When everyone gathered on the line January 2, Meadows kicked off the now infamous call. Zachary Cohen, Paula Reid And Sara Murray, CNN, 2 Dec. 2021 The man’s infamous identity is confirmed in a mid-credits scene where Hanussen meets up with Vladimir Lenin (August Diehl). Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, 25 Dec. 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

13 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Infamous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for infamous


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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