in·​fa·​my | \ ˈin-fə-mē How to pronounce infamy (audio) \
plural infamies

Definition of infamy

1 : evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking, or brutal
2a : an extreme and publicly known criminal or evil act
b : the state of being infamous

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Choose the Right Synonym for infamy

disgrace, dishonor, disrepute, infamy, ignominy mean the state or condition of suffering loss of esteem and of enduring reproach. disgrace often implies humiliation and sometimes ostracism. sent home in disgrace dishonor emphasizes the loss of honor that one has enjoyed or the loss of self-esteem. preferred death to life with dishonor disrepute stresses loss of one's good name or the acquiring of a bad reputation. a once proud name fallen into disrepute infamy usually implies notoriety as well as exceeding shame. a day that lives in infamy ignominy stresses humiliation. the ignominy of being arrested

Frequently Asked Questions About infamy

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 infamy in a Sentence

He never escaped the infamy his crimes had earned him. despite her eventual pardons, she could never completely free herself of the infamy of being named a war criminal
Recent Examples on the Web These nations—not those in Europe, which has mounted a stunning turnaround since March—are the company America keeps in pandemic infamy. Harry Cheadle, The New Republic, "America Has Failed the Existential-Crisis Test," 23 June 2020 The poster boy for the bizarre contract extension, Richard Wright etched his name into football infamy after agreeing his move to Manchester City in 2012., "7 Players Who 'Earned' New Contracts Despite Doing Pretty Much Nothing," 18 Oct. 2019 Sliding into someone’s DMs could actually mean sliding into public discourse, or worse, viral infamy., "And through the pervasive porousness of what used to be privacy, I’ve also learned how bad guys are at Tinder, thanks in large part to the basic unit of currency in the Full Disclosure economy: the screen shot.," 18 Oct. 2019 What becomes of fame when it's borne out of infamy? Laura Regensdorf, Vogue, "Natalie Portman's Pop Star Turn in Vox Lux Bristles with Apocalyptic Foreboding...and Glitter," 13 Dec. 2018 Those weapons, built to fight World War III with the Soviet Union, were failure-prone, and gained infamy for killing and wounding civilians as well as American troops. John Ismay, New York Times, "160 Nations Ban These Weapons. The U.S. Now Embraces Them.," 7 Feb. 2020 Massey gained infamy in 2014 for his activities in Brownsville as a member of a border vigilante group called Rusty's Rangers. Kevin Krause, Dallas News, "North Texas militia vigilante who rounded up migrants at border found dead after months on the run," 10 Jan. 2020 Guzmán, 62, a former leader of Mexico's Sinaloa drug cartel, gained infamy by twice breaking out of high-security prisons in his native country. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "Alien experts on the Area 51 saga 👽," 17 July 2019 The day lives in infamy, and almost 80 years later its legacy drives the emotionally resonant finale of NCIS’s 17th season. Sara Netzley,, "NCIS recap: Gibbs probes the wounds of Pearl Harbor," 15 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'infamy.' 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 infamy

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for infamy

Time Traveler

The first known use of infamy was in the 15th century

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Statistics for infamy

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Infamy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for infamy


How to pronounce infamy (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of infamy

: the condition of being known for having done bad things or for being evil
formal : an evil or terrible act


in·​fa·​my | \ ˈin-fə-mē How to pronounce infamy (audio) \
plural infamies

Kids Definition of infamy

1 : an evil reputation He earned infamy for his crimes.
2 : an evil or terrible act The people suffered the infamies of their ruler.

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More from Merriam-Webster on infamy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for infamy

Spanish Central: Translation of infamy

Nglish: Translation of infamy for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about infamy

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