ig·​no·​min·​i·​ous ˌig-nə-ˈmi-nē-əs How to pronounce ignominious (audio)
: humiliating, degrading
an ignominious defeat
: deserving of shame or infamy : despicable
: marked with or characterized by disgrace or shame : dishonorable
ignominiously adverb
ignominiousness noun

Did you know?

The "-nom-" of "ignominious" comes from "nomen," the Latin word for "name" or "repute." (It's also the root of "misnomer," "nomenclature," and "nominal," among others.) The "ig-" part of the word is akin to the negative prefix in-; when joined to the root "-nom-," it indicates the namelessness that goes with shame or dishonor. To suffer an ignominious fate is to lose the opportunity to make a name for oneself or to lose one's good name. When "ignominious" was first borrowed from a French form of the word in the 15th century, it meant "disgraced" or "dishonorable." "Ignominious" continues to have such meanings, but it also has somewhat milder meanings - "embarrassing" and "humiliating."

Example Sentences

some of his friends considered the low-level job to be an ignominious fate for the laid-off executive the prison guards degraded themselves with their inhumane, ignominious treatment of the prisoners
Recent Examples on the Web The ouster was an ignominious turn in the career of a man who had once been rumored as a possible presidential contender in Republican circles. Michael M. Grynbaum, New York Times, 24 Apr. 2023 Greenpeace ran a photo of the panels’ ignominious fate, prompting a development officer from Unity College in Maine to ask if the small, environmentally focused school could have them. John Kelly, Washington Post, 22 Mar. 2023 Is yet another bear-market rally coming to an ignominious end, or has the stock market entered a new and more forgiving paradigm? James Mackintosh, WSJ, 22 Feb. 2023 Senator Mike Lee has come rushing to Clarence Thomas’s defense over the Supreme Court justice’s ignominious financial dealings, and his latest argument will blow your mind. Tori Otten, The New Republic, 4 May 2023 The $700 million deficit was so deep red the business actually managed to breach the ignominious mark of a negative 100% margin. Christiaan Hetzner, Fortune, 3 May 2023 Teixeira’s arrest was an ignominious turn for a family steeped in military service. John R. Ellement, BostonGlobe.com, 24 Apr. 2023 Tuberville, suffering through the final, ignominious stop in a college football career that dropped off sharply after his successes at Auburn in the early 2000s, probably wasn't paying attention. Craig Hooper, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2023 Sam Bankman-Fried’s ignominious fall dashed those aspirations. Leo Schwartz, Fortune Crypto, 19 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ignominious.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of ignominious was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near ignominious

Cite this Entry

“Ignominious.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ignominious. Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


ig·​no·​min·​i·​ous ˌig-nə-ˈmin-ē-əs How to pronounce ignominious (audio)
: causing disgrace or shame
an ignominious defeat
ignominiously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on ignominious

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