Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Having an exceedingly bad reputation; notorious.
  • adj. Causing or deserving infamy; heinous: an infamous deed.
  • adj. Law Punishable by severe measures, such as death, long imprisonment, or loss of civil rights.
  • adj. Law Convicted of a crime, such as treason or felony, that carries such a punishment.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. having a bad reputation, disreputable; of bad report; notoriously vile; detestable; widely known, especially for something bad
  • adj. causing infamy; disgraceful
  • adj. in England / Great Britain, a judicial punishment which deprived the infamous person of certain rights; this included a prohibition against holding public office, exercising the franchise, receiving a public pension, serving on a jury, or giving testimony in a court of law.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of very bad report; having a reputation of the worst kind; held in abhorrence; guilty of something that exposes to infamy; base; notoriously vile; detestable
  • adj. Causing or producing infamy; deserving detestation; scandalous to the last degree
  • adj. Branded with infamy by conviction of a crime.
  • adj. Having a bad name as being the place where an odious crime was committed, or as being associated with something detestable; hence, unlucky; perilous; dangerous.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of ill fame; famous or noted for badness of any kind; notoriously evil; of vile character or quality; odious; detestable: applied to persons or things.
  • Involving or attributing infamy; branded, or that brands, with infamy: as, an infamous crime; infamous punishment.
  • In the commonlaw rule of evidence disqualifying convicts to testify as witnesses or serve as jurors, an offense a conviction of which would at common law disqualify the person as a witness or juror, because creating a strong presumption against truthfulness; in general, an offense punishable in a state prison.
  • In the constitutional provision that no one can be held to answer for an infamous offense without presentment or indictment by grand jury, a crime punishable capitally or by imprisonment in a state prison or penitentiary, with or without hard labor. In this sense restricted by some authorities to those offenses which involve falsehood and are calculated to affect injuriously the public administration of justice. Synonyms Wicked, Heinous, etc. (see atrocious); disgraceful, shameful, grossly dishonorable, nefarious, execrable, ignominious.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. known widely and usually unfavorably

Etymologies

Middle English infamis, from Latin īnfāmis : in-, not; see in-1 + fāma, renown, fame; see bhā-2 in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • I use the term infamous because as with a box of cream centered chocolates, one is never quite certain what the next choice will bring!

    Columbiana Street Fair

  • As he retired, bursting with ineffectual indignation, Esdale was the first person whom Hartley chanced to meet with, and to him, stung with impatience, he communicated what he termed the infamous conduct of the

    The Surgeon's Daughter

  • Defense Secretary Robert Gates, touring a facility down in Fort Bliss, Texas, today designed to help soldiers with Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome, announced that the Pentagon will change what he called the infamous question 21.

    CNN Transcript May 1, 2008

  • There is in infamous moment in the writing lives of Annie, Paul and I where we can pinpoint the moment a character chose how his story would be told.

    Crossing Over: Characters Choosing Writers « Write Anything

  • It was unclear if she was referring to her infamous display in the semi-final in 2009, when she was penalised against Kim Clijsters and heavily fined, or a similar incident to Sunday night's, in Doha last year.

    US Open 2011: Samantha Stosur shocks Serena Williams to take title

  • Mother was referring to the infamous story of Helen Potter, daughter of a multimillionaire beer and wine distributor in Hyannis Port who, after she had been engaged to the son of a wealthy Boston builder, was discovered naked in bed with her closest girlfriend.

    Olivia

  • WESTHOVEN: No, a name infamous in some corporate circles and of course Bob Nardelli, former CEO of Home Depot now being put in at the top job over at Chrysler.

    CNN Transcript Aug 11, 2007

  • The Sultana is the eldest daughter of the famous Kisabengo, a name infamous throughout the neighbouring countries of Udoe, Ukami,

    How I Found Livingstone

  • Particularly infamous is the direction Hume's thinking takes when he comes to consider the putative existence of the self.

    Hemans, Hume and Philosophical Scepticism

  • Arcos, who afterwards made his name infamous for his crimes and excesses -- all the officers and influential persons there assembled were desirous he should resign it in favour of Zumalacarregui.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 58, Number 358, August 1845

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Comments

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  • "LADY WINDERMERE. I did not spy on you. I never knew of this woman's existence till half an hour ago. Some one who pitied me was kind enough to tell me what every one in London knows already - your daily visits to Curzon Street, your mad infatuation, the monstrous sums of money you squander on this infamous woman!"
    - Oscar Wilde, 'Lady Windemere's Fan'.

    August 27, 2009

  • Haha, with the likes of Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan running around, famous and infamous have become interchangeable. ;-)

    October 31, 2007

  • When I was little, I used to think (based on an extremely vague contextual speculation, I suppose) that it meant you were so bad you would never, ever be a sufficiently upstanding citizen to become famous. Of course, this was before I knew anything about famous people.

    October 30, 2007

  • Ha! That's exactly what I thought this word meant when I was little.

    February 18, 2007

  • Lucky Day
         "Three Amigos, Hollywood, California.
         You are very great.
         100,000 pesos.
         Come to Santa Poco put on show, stop.
         The Infamous El Guapo."

    Dusty Bottoms
         What does that mean, infamous?

    Ned Nederlander
         Oh, Dusty. Infamous is when you're more than famous.
         This man El Guapo, he's not just famous, he's IN famous.

    February 18, 2007