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First attested 1548, from Medieval Latin nōtōrius(widely or fully known), from Latin nōtus(known), perfect passive participle of nōscō(get to know). Negative sense appeared in seventeenth century.



notorious ‎(comparative more notorious, superlative most notorious)

  1. Widely known, especially for something bad; infamous.
    • 1920, "This is the last straw. In your infatuation for this man — a man who is notorious for his excesses, a man your father would not have allowed to so much as mention your name — you have reflected the demi-monde rather than the circles in which you have presumably grown up."The Offshore Pirate by F. Scott Fitzgerald
    • 1999, "The Hempshocks' sheep were notoriously the finest for miles around: shaggy-coated and intelligent (for sheep), with curling horns and sharp hooves." — Neil Gaiman, Stardust, pg. 30 (2001 Perennial edition)



Related terms[edit]


Usage notes[edit]

Notorious is often misused for well-known, famous, or celebrated; however, in Modern English, its meaning has changed. Notorious is not a positive attribute.