Struggling with whether to use the term ‘famous’ or ‘infamous’? A lot of people confuse the terms or use them interchangeably. But the terms mean two slightly different things.
‘Famous’ means known and recognized by many people.
‘Infamous’ means well-known for something bad.
Let’s talk about the difference between 'famous' and 'infamous.'
So, how do you use both words correctly? Before we dive in, let’s look at each word's definition and meaning, as well as a few synonyms.
Learning the difference between ‘famous’ and ‘infamous’ is essential to use them both correctly. Let’s take a look at the definition of both words.
The Cambridge definition of 'famous' is “known and recognized by many people.”
The Merriam-Webster definition is “widely known” or “honored for achievement.”
It also means “excellent, first-rate.”
Some synonyms include:
The Merriam-Webster definition of ‘infamous’ is “having a reputation of the worst kind: notoriously evil,” “causing or bringing infamy: disgraceful,” and “convicted of an offense bringing infamy."
The Cambridge definition is “famous for something considered bad.”
Synonyms for the word include:
So, it’s clear there’s a difference between the words, so you know not to use them interchangeably. Let’s talk about how to use both words in a sentence correctly.
Take a look at some examples of how to use ‘famous’ in a sentence:
Now, here are some examples of how to use ‘infamous’ in a sentence:
When trying to remember which word to use, think about the fact that celebrities (Beyonce) are ‘famous’ and serial killers (Charles Manson) are ‘infamous.’
Of course, some celebrities can also be infamous or known for doing something bad (i.e., Chris Brown, Lindsay Lohan, etc.). But they’re usually not as infamous as…you know, serial killers.
Of course, it doesn’t take committing a heinous crime to be infamous. You really just have to be viewed negatively by a large group of unapproving people for something you’ve done. Even then, you might not be seen as infamous so much as what you did to become infamous. It all depends on the severity of the event.
In closing, using both words in a sentence shouldn't be too hard with the above information in mind. But if you ever do get stuck, you can always come back here to WritingTips.org and browse our library of confusing words, which covers confusing words and phrases like 'double check' and 'apportion/portion/proportion.'