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