ศัพท์ น่าสับสน ชุด I – Infamous - notorious
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ออกเสียง Infamous = ‘IN-fuh-muhs’
ออกเสียง notorious = ‘noh-TAWR-ee-uhs’
“Infamous” vs. “Notorious”: Which One Is Better?
Thanks to clicks, likes, and verified blue checkmarks,
a person’s reputation can extend far beyond thosewho know them personally.
it’s widely known that Chris Evans is a real-life Captain America who holds doors open for people, and we all acknowledge thatBeyoncé is a goddess among us mere mortals.
Speaking of superpowers, before she passed away on September 18, 2020, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg used to do planks every day—you know, between issuing fierce dissenting opinions and keeping a night-owl’s work schedule. Whew!
Some people, though, have a reputation that precedes them in less positive ways.
If people break into whispers when a person enters a room
or if mentioning a name makes people’s eyebrows waggle,
chances are high that that person is either infamous or notorious for something.
But, which is it?
Infamous and notorious are commonly interchanged terms
used to describe someone who or something that is famous for being negative in some way.
While they can sometimes mean the same thing, there are subtle differences between the two terms.
There are times when either will work, yet in other cases, one word is a better fit.
What does it mean to be infamous?
First recorded in the 14th century, infamous is an adjective rooted in the Latin infamis, “of ill fame.” We use it to describe a person, place, or thing known for “having an extremely bad reputation.” It can also mean “deserving of or causing an evil reputation, detestable.” Think Cruella de Vil, Voldemort, and your 11th-grade algebra teacher.
People, places, or things can also go down in infamy, getting a super bad rep as the result of a “shameful, criminal or outrageous act.” See also: Fyre Festival.
Remember, just because infamous has the word famous embedded within it doesn’t mean the two go hand in hand.
Flipping a table at a family dinner may go down in infamy, winning you the reputation as the cousin with the temper. But, unless your family has its own time slot on Bravo, it won’t make you famous.
What does it mean to be notorious?
Similar to infamous, notorious is an adjective meaning “widely and unfavorably known.” Evidenced in the late 15th century, notorious originally meant “well known,” true to its ultimate Latin root, notus, meaning“known.”
Which makes it easier to remember that identifying someone as notorious is like putting a notice out on them.
So what about notorious vs. notable vs. noteworthy?
Well, they are all close in meaning (due to that same Latin root), but there are subtle but significant differences among them.
What’s the verdict on whether it’s spelled judgement or judgment?
The subtle differences between infamy and notoriety
Beyond being used to throw shade,
like saying the Kardashians are notorious for drama,
notorious can also mean “publicly orgenerally known, as for a particular trait.”
Jack Nicholson is notorious for always wearing sunglasses,
a good example of the word being used without as many negative vibes implied.
How do you use infamy and notoriety in a sentence?
Plenty of people use the terms infamous and notorious interchangeably, and that’s not necessarily wrong. If who (or what) you’re describing is scandalous, evil, or has some otherwise seriously negative baggage, both infamous and notorious can work.
However, if you’re describing someone who’s well known for something but people’s opinions differ as to whether or not what they did was wrong or bad, notorious is a more nuanced choice.
Consider Tom Brady. Between #Deflategate and his proclamations about his unconventional diet, everyone knows who he is, making him clearly notorious.
But, only those who booed when the Patriots won the Super Bowl would feel that his refusal to eat tomatoes makes him nefarious enough to be considered infamous.
In a world where fame is just a viral post away, it’s no wonder infamy and notoriety are such popular terms.
With just a few clicks, you can become “that” person.
Which is why being picky when deciding between the terms infamous and notorious matter.
Common Errors in English Usage Dictionary
Infamous - notorious
“Infamous” means famous in a bad way.
It is related to the word “infamy.”
Humorists have for a couple of centuries jokingly used the word in a positive sense, but the effectiveness of the joke depends on the listener knowing that this is a misuse of the term. Because this is a very old joke indeed you should stick to using “infamous” only of people like Hitler and Billy the Kid.
“Notorious” means the same thing as “infamous” and should also only be used in a negative sense.
Collins COBUILD English Usage
If someone or something is famous, very many people know about them.
Have you ever dreamed of becoming a famous writer?
...the world's most famous picture.
Well-known has a similar meaning to famous.
...a club run by Paul Ross, a well-known Lakeland climber.
...his two well-known books on modern art.
Well-known can be spelled with or without a hyphen.
You usually spell it with a hyphen in front of a noun
and without a hyphen after a verb.
I took him to a well-known doctor in Harley Street.
The building became very well known.
Someone or something that is notorious is well known for something that is bad or undesirable.
The area was notorious for murders.
...his notorious arrogance.
People and things are described as infamous
when they are well known because they are connected withwicked or cruel behaviour.
...the infamous serial killer known as 'the Boston Strangler'.
...the infamous shower scene from Psycho.
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?
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."
Famous vs. Infamous
What to Know
Famous means "widely known,"
while infamous means "having a reputation of the worst kind."
This can be confusing because the prefix in- often implies an opposite or a negation, but it can also mean"inward" or "thoroughly."
This is why infamous does not mean "not famous."
Perhaps you are one of those people who has looked up the word infamous because you can’t seem to quite remember whether it’s supposed to mean“very famous,” “not famous,” “famous (but in a bad way),” or some other thing.
If this is the case, you are in excellent company: our records indicate that approximately 88,000 people searched for the word infamous on this site in a recent month.
Don't be confused by the prefix: 'in' at the beginning of the word can have any one of several meanings.
The 'in' in 'infamous' implies negation,
but 'infamous' means “having a reputation of the worst kind," not "not famous."
Origin of Famous and Infamous
Yes, famous and infamous have some similarities (both words are descended from the Latin fama, meaning “fame,” and both often have to do with being well-known), but they have decidedly different meanings.
Famous typically carries the meaning of “widely known,” and is often used in a positive manner;
infamous, on the other hand, has a negative set ofmeanings, such as “having a reputation of the worst kind” or “causing or bringing infamy.”
There you have it. One of these words means one thing, and the other word means something else.
It’s all very simple isn’t it? No, it is not.
Here are a few ways that things which look simple in English are decidedly not so.
Synonyms that Sound Like Opposites
The word lock means “to fasten (something) with a lock.”
So what does the word unlock mean?
If you guessed “to unfasten the lock of” pat yourself on the back.
Now let’s move on to another question:
if the word thaw means “to stop being frozen” what does the word unthaw mean?
If you guessed something along the lines of “to make something frozen,” well, hang your head in shame and befuddlement.
The definition of unthaw is “thaw.”
Similarly, unloosen is pretty much identical to loosen,
invaluable and valuable are much more synonyms than antonyms,
and to really muddy the waters we can bring up the issue of flammable and inflammable.
Why must this be so?
Was the English language actually created by a cruel and vengeful god, or was it perhaps all put together in a single afternoon by a committee of unlearned and bickering idiots?
No, neither of these theories, so far as we can tell, have much evidence to support them. There is a perfectly valid reason for why so many apparently opposite words have the same, or almost the same, meaning, and it has to do with the role played by one of our prefixes.
The Prefix "In-"
The prefix we are concerned with here (in-) can have a variety of both meanings and forms. It can take the forms of il-, im-, or ir-, in addition to in-, depending on what letter it precedes. It can mean “not,” (inconclusive), and it can also mean “inward, into, toward” (as in implode or irradicate). And in a final confusing twist, it can also serve as an intensifier, meaning “thoroughly” (which is possibly why so many people think infamous means “very famous”). Infamous contains the version of in- which implies negation, although it does not actually mean “not famous.”
You do not actually have to be famous to be infamous, although we are unlikely to see this latter word applied to a person who is little-known, inconspicuous, or who has not achieved at least some degree of notoriety. If the distinction continues to prove elusive, you can always try to remember that the noun form of infamous is infamy, which has no pleasant connotations, and which was immortalized in our language with its use by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt when he gave a speech referring to the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor as “a date which will live in infamy.”