adjective no·to·ri·ous \ nō-ˈtȯr-ē-əs , nə- \
|Updated on: 15 Jul 2018

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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Examples of notorious in a Sentence

  1. The coach is notorious for his violent outbursts.

  2. a notorious mastermind of terrorist activities

Recent Examples of notorious from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of notorious

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

NOTORIOUS Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of notorious for English Language Learners

  • : well-known or famous especially for something bad

NOTORIOUS Defined for Kids


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

Definition of notorious for Students

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


  • She has a notoriously bad temper.

Law Dictionary


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

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peaceful, happy, or prosperous

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