notorious

adjective
no·​to·​ri·​ous | \nō-ˈtȯr-ē-əs, nə-\

Definition of notorious 

: generally known and talked of iron is a notorious conductor of heat— Lewis Mumford especially : widely and unfavorably known a notorious gangster an area notorious for soot, smog, and dust Pliotron

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for notorious

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

Did You Know?

Notorious was adopted into English in the 16th century from Medieval Latin notorius, itself from Late Latin's noun notorium, meaning "information" or "indictment." "Notorium," in turn, derives from the Latin verb noscere, meaning "to come to know." Although "notorious" can be a synonym of "famous," meaning simply "widely known," it long ago developed the additional implication of someone or something unpleasant or undesirable. The Book of Common Prayer Offices of 1549 includes the first known use of the unfavorable meaning in print, referring to "notorious synners."

Examples of notorious in a Sentence

The coach is notorious for his violent outbursts. a notorious mastermind of terrorist activities

Recent Examples on the Web

Speaking purely in terms of raw numbers, Shane Dawson’s eight-part documentary on the most notorious YouTuber on the planet has been a tremendous success — in less than 24 hours, the 105-minute finale has been watched 10 million times. Patricia Hernandez, The Verge, "Jake Paul’s racism controversy reveals the flaw in Shane Dawson’s docuseries," 19 Oct. 2018 Perhaps the most notorious room is the leopard-print bathroom covered in Helmut Newton photographs—including Elsa Peretti in a bunny costume. Kate Donnelly, Town & Country, "At Home with Texas Philanthropist Lynn Wyatt," 19 Oct. 2018 The most notorious of these loans was the 2/28 subprime adjustable-rate mortgage (ARM). Jeff Andrews, Curbed, "10 years after the financial crisis, is the housing market still at risk?," 29 Aug. 2018 One prime example is the Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), a Jihadi-Salafi network whose members were responsible for some of Indonesia’s most notorious terrorist attacks, including the 2000 Christmas Eve bombings and the 2002 Bali bombing. Julie Chernov Hwang, Washington Post, "New research shows why terrorists quit terrorism," 12 July 2018 Pressure is growing on direct-to-consumer genealogy and genetic testing companies to be more transparent about their privacy policies, after the arrest of the notorious Golden State Killer using publicly available data from one of the websites. Megan Thielking, STAT, "Lawmakers press genetic testing companies for details on their privacy policies," 21 June 2018 Just in the past week alone, alligators have made news several times: And the most notorious recent alligator attack occurred in Walt Disney World in 2016, when an alligator dragged a 2-year-old boy to his death in a lake at the resort. Doyle Rice, USA TODAY, "Alligators, sharks, mountain lions and other predators are making a comeback," 9 May 2018 In 1990, on the occasion of a soccer game in the Croatian capital of Zagreb, there was a notorious brawl between Serbs and Croats that left sixty people wounded. Larry Wolff, WSJ, "Croatia Offers Redemption for Eastern Europe," 13 July 2018 The account shows how power imbalances within the banking industry prevent whistleblowers from coming forward and why there have been so few #metoo stories that have come out of Wall Street despite its notorious frat boy culture. Longreads, "The Top 5 Longreads of the Week," 13 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of notorious

1534, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for notorious

Medieval Latin notorius, from Late Latin notorium information, indictment, from Latin noscere to come to know — more at know

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about notorious

Listen to Our Podcast about notorious

Statistics for notorious

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for notorious

The first known use of notorious was in 1534

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for notorious

notorious

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of notorious

: well-known or famous especially for something bad

notorious

adjective
no·​to·​ri·​ous | \nō-ˈtȯr-ē-əs \

Kids Definition of notorious

: widely known especially for some bad characteristic … he caught the villain, who turned out to be a very notorious criminal.— Robert McClosky, Homer Price

Other Words from notorious

notoriously adverb She has a notoriously bad temper.

notorious

adjective
no·​to·​ri·​ous | \nō-ˈtōr-ē-əs \

Legal Definition of notorious 

: generally known and talked of adverse possession created by open, continuous, notorious, and adverse use

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on notorious

What made you want to look up notorious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

by force of circumstances

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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