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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web For a woman who has become infamous in Japan, little is known publicly about Chisako Kakehi's personal life. Jessie Yeung, CNN, 25 Sep. 2021 Of the set of lawmakers working to slow down or completely stop progress on the Biden administration’s $3.5 trillion reconciliation bill, almost no one is more famous—or infamous—than Senator Kyrsten Sinema. Daniel Strauss, The New Republic, 22 Sep. 2021 The other home marked for auction is a bit more infamous. Jack Flemming, Los Angeles Times, 18 Sep. 2021 The '98 draft was infamous for Houston’s passing up on Alief Elsik High School's Rashard Lewis three times. Rahat Huq, Chron, 9 Sep. 2021 But Dre is infamous for his grueling, marathon studio sessions with collaborators, which have increasingly yielded songs that stamp out tics and idiosyncrasies –– songs that are technically precise but roboticized to the point of sterility. Paul Thompson, Rolling Stone, 1 Sep. 2021 Would Henry, Ann, and their daughter be as crazily famous, or infamous, as the story maintains? Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, 9 Aug. 2021 There, the mRNA is turned into proteins—specifically, the infamous coronavirus spike protein the virus uses to infect cells. Fortune, 2 Oct. 2021 Officer Nolan and Officer Chen have a run-in with an infamous thief, tipping them off to a bigger heist; Nolan asks Bailey out on a date. Washington Post, 2 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for infamous

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near infamous



infamous crime

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Statistics for infamous

Last Updated

16 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Infamous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Oct. 2021.

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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


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