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

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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

Over our second bottle of wine, Anastasi told me that in 1971, the Italian government attempted to turn Filicudi into a kind of prison without walls, sending 15 notorious mafia leaders to live there as free men in exile. Howie Kahn, Smithsonian, "These Volcanic, Italian Islands Have Been Beloved by Travelers Since Homeric Times," 11 July 2018 Inside State Security’s al-Khattib branch, one of the most notorious in downtown Damascus, Omar was packed in a 4-by-5-yard cell with dozens of other prisoners. Greg Betza, Washington Post, "Syria, a love story," 1 May 2018 The fire in Goleta was fueled by sundowner winds _ notorious in the region and responsible for many of the area’s most devastating fires over the years _ and record temperatures that stayed above 100 degrees well into Friday night. Andrea Castillo And John Wilkens, Anchorage Daily News, "California city devastated by brush fire as record heat burns a path of destruction," 7 July 2018 Sarah Huckabee Sanders, aka Aunt Lydia, isn’t going anywhere but her team of notorious apologists for Trump’s White House just got stronger by adding former co-president of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network Bill Shine. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Trump Picks Disgraced Former Fox News Executive Bill Shine to Fill White House Communications Position," 5 July 2018 Buzz60 On Sunday, notorious internet conspiracy theorist Alex Jones warned of a second Civil War starting on July 4. Marc Daalder, Detroit Free Press, "#SecondCivilWarLetters is trending on Twitter in a pretty hilarious way," 3 July 2018 After Sinatra became a pop-music sensation in the 1940s, the couple moved to Los Angeles, where the singer would also become a movie star, raconteur, man about town and notorious womanizer. John Rogers,, "Nancy Sinatra Sr., first wife of Frank Sinatra, dies at 101," 14 July 2018 After Sinatra became a pop-music sensation in the 1940s, the couple moved to Los Angeles, where the singer would also become a movie star, raconteur, man about town and notorious womanizer. CBS News, "Nancy Sinatra Sr., Frank Sinatra's first wife, dead at 101," 14 July 2018 Where Trump bases his judgments and opinions on instinct, Johnson is a notorious strategist who has long plotted how to inveigle his way into the United Kingdom’s top job. Dan Stewart, Time, "The 3 Big Takeaways from Donald Trump's Controversial Interview with The Sun," 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.

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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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Last Updated

23 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for notorious

The first known use of notorious was in 1534

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More Definitions for notorious



English Language Learners Definition of notorious

: well-known or famous especially for something bad


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.


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

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


occurring twice a year or every two years

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