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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)

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.



Related terms[edit]