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Notorious Definition – Meaning and Usage In A Sentence

Notorious Definition – Meaning and Usage In A Sentence

You’ve probably heard of “Notorious B.I.G” and his musical career. But thinking about the word “notorious” will have you wondering, what is so special about the word that someone would choose it as the stage name? We have researched the notorious definition, meaning, and usage in detail to help anyone interested in learning about this word.

“Notorious” (adjective): widely known and usually unfavorable. Use the word when describing someone infamous. The word discusses someone famous for something bad. Use the word to show an ill reputation due to some bad scandals.

We are not implying that B.I.G was infamous, but he chose the word “notorious” to be his stage name for a reason. Perhaps this is one of the most interesting English words you will encounter today. Learn everything you need to know about “notorious” in this article, from the definition, history, pronunciation, to usage.

house woman sofa readingWhat is the Definition of Notorious?

“Notorious” is an adjective that means “publicly known for a particular trait.” Use the word when talking about something or someone known for a particular trait. In most cases, the attribute referred to when using this word is usually undesirable.

The person or something you are talking about might not be famous, but they are known for a distasteful trait. Something that makes other people fear or hate the notorious types. These people do things that most people find terrible, unpleasant, and displeasing; however, that does not mean that what they are doing is a crime or illegal.

Some decisions and behavior in life are not liked by most people, especially if the person doing them goes overboard. Something as simple as smiling could be “notorious” if you do it often to the extent of scaring people or making them annoyed. It is worse if you smile in situations that demand a somber mood.

Here are sentence examples:

  • Samuel is a notorious gambler.
  • The magazine is notorious for using vulgar language.
  • The mailman is a notorious rumor-monger.

What is the Meaning of Notorious?

“Notorious” (adjective): something or someone generally known or talked about negatively. Use the word to speak about situations that happen typically but unfavorably. The term also describes a region or place famous for something that might get considered harmful, like a notorious storm, a notorious volcano eruption, or notorious traffic.

Here are sentence examples:

  • The city has a name for its notorious smog.
  • Kindly remind me where we met; my notorious memory can fail me.
  • You need to be careful when using metallic products around heat; metals are notorious conductors of heat.

Is Notorious a Negative Word?

Initially, the words “notorious” and “famous” had the exact definition and meaning, none of which was positive or negative. Today, the word notorious is embraced mainly in negative contexts. So we can say that it is a negative word rather than a positive one. Unless you want to build a bad reputation, being notorious is not good.

Words Related to Notorious

Some words are related to each other, and they could have the same or near meaning; they could be opposite or similar in sounds. Here is a look at words related to notorious.


Below are examples of words that have the same meaning as notorious.

  • Infamous
  • Famous
  • Renowned
  • Fabled
  • Scandalous
  • Star
  • Ill-famed
  • Talked about
  • Distinguished
  • Unprincipled
  • Vile
  • Tarnished
  • Wicked
  • Shady
  • Scandalous


Let’s look at examples of words that are opposite of notorious.

  • Moral
  • Honorable
  • Noble
  • Venerable
  • Trustworthy
  • Esteemed
  • Illustrious
  • Sincere
  • Principled
  • Ethical
  • Unknown
  • Faceless
  • Obscure
  • Un-famous

Rhyming words

Here are some examples of words that have the same sound as notorious.

  • Glorious
  • Curious
  • Mysterious
  • Fabulous
  • Hilarious
  • Melodious
  • Precious
  • Ambitious
  • Previous
  • Chorus
  • Humorous
  • Suspicious
  • Victorious
  • Furious
  • Delicious

Words People Often Use When Discussing Notorious

  • Gain
  • Well-known
  • Crime
  • Criminal
  • Earn

Common Words Confused With Notorious

Here are words that are mostly confused with the word notorious.

Notorious vs. famous: Though both notorious and famous mean well-known, the difference is that notorious means widely known for something terrible.

Notorious vs. infamous: The reason most people use the words notorious and infamous interchangeably is that these words are direct synonyms. They both have a terrible reputation. The term vile is also known for something bad.

How to Use Notorious in a Sentence

Use “notorious” when talking about someone or something well-known for a negative reason. Also, when talking about people seen unfavorably for their actions or when talking about events.

Use the word “notorious” to talk about a specific well-known action or trait; it does not have to be a bad one. However, you need to be creative in your sentences if you use “notorious” to mean well-known.

Word Forms of Notorious

The word notorious has three different word forms. Read about the various word forms, definitions, and example sentences to learn. Remember that learning the different word forms of any word makes it easier to understand the multiple ways that you can use that word.

Notoriously (adverb): The quality of the fact is well-known and is also bad. Use the word to emphasize that something well-known isn’t appropriate.

Here are sentence examples:

  • The village is notoriously known for its high crime rate.
  • You need to be cautious when dealing with the group since they are notoriously known for stealing.
  • Over the years of working as a nurse, I have found that birth rates are notoriously difficult to predict.

Notoriousness (noun): The state or the quality of being notoriety or notorious.

Here are sentence examples:

  • His mischief and notoriousness are what made his wife leave.
  • The teacher could no longer tolerate the child’s notoriousness, so she sent him to the parents.
  • The notoriousness the worker has shown has led to the sales reduction.

Notoriety (noun): The quality of being famous or well-known for some bad quality or deed.

Here are sentence examples:

  • The film has gained some notoriety online.
  • He got instant fame and notoriety after a video of him fighting the police went viral.
  • She gained notoriety when her nude photographs appeared in a magazine.

10 Examples of Notorious in a Sentence

Though reading the meaning and definitions of a word helps, you also need to read sentences with the particular word. That way, you will have a better idea of using it in your sentences. Check out some sentences with the word notorious below.

  1. Mohammed, the notorious mastermind of the terrorist activities in the city, was my classmate.
  2. The piano instructor is notorious for his outbursts.
  3. The eastern port was previously notorious for smuggling immigrants.
  4. Everyone in our town feared the notorious brothers.
  5. Your mother is notorious for paying the rent late.
  6. The teacher asked us to write a review of the notorious way the soldiers treated women in the 18th century.
  7. She once worked as a lawyer who defended some of the most notorious criminals in the country.
  8. The mayor was notorious for carrying out shady deals.
  9. Be careful when you drive across the bridge; it is a notorious blackspot.
  10. The hotel industry is notorious for its low rates of pay.

How Do You Spell Notorious?

Correctly spell the word “notorious” as “n.o.t.o.r.i.o.u.s.”

Take the time to read and understand the spellings of the word “notorious” to avoid making unnecessary embarrassing mistakes when using the word.

How Do You Pronounce Notorious?

Pronounce the word “notorious” as “nuh.taw.ree.uhs.” 

Proper pronunciation is as essential as correct spelling. A mistake you can make when talking to people is embracing the wrong accent. When you do this, there is a high chance that people will not understand you, and they will not give your speech the importance it deserves.

How Many Syllables Are in Notorious?

The word “notorious” has four syllables. These syllables are “” The stressed syllable is “to.”

reading beach womanHistory & Etymology of Notorious 

Learning the origin and etymology is the best way to understand a word and the various ways to use it in sentences. The origin of the word “notorious” is the Medieval Latin “notorious.” “Notorious” means “well-known or public.” 

However, in Late Latin, the word changed to “nōtōria,” meaning “notice or news.” The word was then introduced to English as “notorious,” a synonym for famous. But the word added implications of someone or something unpleasant or not desirable.

The first record of the word “notorious” as a negative word was in 1549 in a book titled “The Books of Common Prayer.” The book used the phrase “notorious Sinners.” This was the first time that the word “notorious” had a negative connotation, and the negative nature eventually stuck with the word.

When Was Notorious First Used?

Records show that the first use of “notorious” dates back to 1534. When first introduced, the word “notorious” meant “generally known or talked about.”


There was a time when the words notorious and famous were used as direct synonyms. However, today the English language has changed the word “notorious” and given it a negative connotation. It describes common negative things or situations that are not popular. So, instead of misusing the word, read the notorious definition, meaning, and usage to keep yourself posted.