in·​fa·​mous | \ ˈin-fə-məs How to pronounce infamous (audio) \

Essential Meaning of infamous

1 : well-known for being bad : known for evil acts or crimes an infamous traitor a city infamous for poverty and crime
2 : causing people to think you are bad or evil He committed an infamous crime. (humorous) We experienced some of the city's infamous weather.

Full Definition of infamous

1 : having a reputation of the worst kind : notoriously evil an infamous traitor
2 : causing or bringing infamy : disgraceful an infamous crime
3 : convicted of an offense bringing infamy

Other Words from infamous

infamously adverb

Frequently Asked Questions About infamous

Is being infamous always a bad thing?

Infamous has a small range of meanings, and none of them are ones that most people would care to be described with. It may mean "notoriously evil," "disgraceful," or "convicted of an offense bringing infamy" (infamy is "evil reputation brought about by something grossly criminal, shocking, or brutal").

Is infamous the opposite of famous?

Infamous is not the opposite of famous. It does not mean "not famous" or "exceptionally famous." It means "having a reputation of the worst kind." Although the in- prefix often indicates negation or gives a meaning opposite to the word it is attached to, it occasionally will have other meanings (such as "inward" and "thoroughly").

What is the difference between unfamous and infamous?

"Although it would appear that both of these words are created by adding a similar prefix to the word famous, they actually have quite different meanings. Infamous means ""notoriously evil"" whereas unfamous simply means ""not famous."" Infamous is by far the more commonly-used of the two. "

Examples of infamous in a Sentence

The most infamous of South America's poisonous snakes are the ringed coral snake and the pit viper. — Candice Millard, The River of Doubt, 2005 Clemens is famous, or maybe infamous, for his brushback pitches and in particular for his penchant for "doubling up," throwing two brushbacks in a row. — Pat Jordan, New York Times Magazine, 4 Mar. 2001 Instead we invoke the infamous dark matter, also known to make up most of the mass of other galaxies (both spiral and elliptical), clusters of galaxies, and the universe. What is it? Your guess may not be quite as good as mine, but almost. — Virginia Trimble et al., Sky & Telescope, January 1995 a city infamous for poverty and crime He committed an infamous crime.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web The new allegations made public last week have reignited questions about the now-infamous Steele dossier and about earlier claims that Millian had been one of many sources for the content. Matthew Mosk, ABC News, 12 Nov. 2021 This contributed to his decision to pull his now infamous Something In The Water Festival which reportedly brought a total $24.11 million economic boost to the city. Kimberly Wilson, Essence, 29 Oct. 2021 And in a brand new video, Shields sat down with Vogue to relive her work on the now-infamous project, which was directed by Richard Avedon. Christian Allaire, Vogue, 28 Oct. 2021 Take New York's Tarrytown, a Hudson Valley village that neighbors Sleepy Hollow, infamous for its Headless Horseman lore. Scottie Andrew, CNN, 26 Oct. 2021 Tim Pool, infamous for his eye-wateringly terrible takes, holds the same opinion, claiming that the show is clearly satirizing the brutality of communism, and that Hwang doesn’t understand his own work. Dani Di Placido, Forbes, 21 Oct. 2021 The authorities identified the gang behind the kidnappings as 400 Mawozo, an outfit infamous for taking abductions to a new level in a country reduced to near lawlessness by natural disaster, corruption and political assassination. New York Times, 17 Oct. 2021 Preparations have been ongoing for what would be the biggest murder trial in Broward County history, and one of the most infamous crimes ever in Florida., 15 Oct. 2021 Cemerant had considered making his way to Ciudad Acuña, across the border from Del Rio, a locale now infamous for images of U.S. Border Patrol agents on horseback chasing Haitians, their reigns swinging overhead like whips. Miriam Pensack, The New Republic, 12 Oct. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'infamous.' 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 infamous

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for infamous

Middle English, from Latin infamis, from in- + fama fame

Learn More About infamous

Time Traveler for infamous

Time Traveler

The first known use of infamous was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near infamous



infamous crime

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for infamous

Last Updated

21 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Infamous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for infamous


in·​fa·​mous | \ ˈin-fə-məs How to pronounce infamous (audio) \

Kids Definition of infamous

1 : having an evil reputation an infamous murderer
2 : evil entry 1 sense 1, bad an infamous crime

Other Words from infamous

infamously adverb


in·​fa·​mous | \ ˈin-fə-məs How to pronounce infamous (audio) \

Legal Definition of infamous

: of, relating to, or being a crime punishable by imprisonment (as a year or more in a penitentiary) that can lead to loss of rights and privileges upon conviction also : convicted of such a crime

More from Merriam-Webster on infamous

Nglish: Translation of infamous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of infamous for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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