no·​to·​ri·​ous | \ nō-ˈtȯr-ē-əs How to pronounce notorious (audio) , 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

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 of 1549 includes one of the first known uses 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 The most prominent was Tadamasa Goto, head of a notorious yakuza gang called Goto-gumi, who was able to gain entry into the U.S. only after pledging to provide information to the FBI about the yakuza and their cross-border financial operations. Gavin J Blair, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Apr. 2022 According to police, an early suspect in the crime was Jose Ledesma, a member of the Vineland Boyz, a notorious gang responsible for drug sales in Sun Valley. Justin Raystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 6 Apr. 2022 Twelve people, including three serving in the Army, supplied nearly 100 firearms to a notorious Chicago street gang in a large-scale gun-running scheme that led to two killings, the Justice Department said Friday. Fox News, 1 Apr. 2022 They were beaten and hacked to death with machetes and tree limbs by more than a dozen members of the notorious MS-13 gang, prosecutors allege. Steve Helling,, 23 Mar. 2022 The Black Panthers’ local headquarters was a block away, and the pharmacy shared a building with the Conservative Vice Lords, a notorious street gang whose members still check in on owner-pharmacist Edwin Muldrow today. Markian Hawryluk, Fortune, 22 Dec. 2021 Two of Portland’s more notorious police shootings — the deaths of Kendra James in 2003 and James Jahar Perez in 2004 — involved unarmed motorists sitting in vehicles. oregonlive, 19 Dec. 2021 More written about than read, more notorious than known, the British heiress Nancy Cunard has much to tell us and warn us against. Kevin Young, The New York Review of Books, 17 Nov. 2021 Still others are asking if there’s someone even more notorious than the Houston rapper who should be blamed: Satan. Andrea Marks, Rolling Stone, 8 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

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

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The first known use of notorious was in 1534

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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Notorious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for notorious


no·​to·​ri·​ous | \ nō-ˈtȯr-ē-əs How to pronounce notorious (audio) \

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 McCloskey, Homer Price

Other Words from notorious

notoriously adverb She has a notoriously bad temper.


no·​to·​ri·​ous | \ nō-ˈtōr-ē-əs How to pronounce notorious (audio) \

Legal Definition of notorious

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

More from Merriam-Webster on notorious

Nglish: Translation of notorious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of notorious for Arabic Speakers


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