Usage Notes | Famous and Infamous

Episode Transcript

This is your host, Danny and this is usage tips from English plus podcast. In today’s episode, we’re going to talk about the word famous, or infamous, or well known notorious, what is the difference between these words? Would you like to learn about that stick around and you will learn everything there is to know about these four words, which have a similar meaning. But obviously, the meaning is a little bit different. When you dig in and figure out the details, become a patron of English plus on Patreon, the link is in the description. By doing that, you will be supporting me to create more of the content you love. And you will get exclusive content for example, every single issue of English plus magazine and a lot coming your way. With your support, I will have enough time and resources to create more of the content you love. And now without further ado, let’s talk about famous well known notorious and infamous, what’s the difference between these words? Let’s find out.

Now, let’s start with famous if someone or something is famous, very many people know about them. For example, have you ever dreamed of becoming a famous writer? Now you might be a writer. But if nobody knows about you, or not a lot of people know about you. So maybe you’re not famous yet, but you are a writer. But when you become a famous writer like Stephen King, for example, everybody knows about Stephen King, very famous writer. So have you ever dreamed of becoming a famous writer, or when we want to talk about the world’s most famous picture, for example, or most famous painting, so famous, we’re talking about something that very many people, a lot of people know about this person or this thing. So isn’t that the same meaning of well known, well known, has a similar meaning to famous However, a well known person or thing is usually known to fewer people, or in a smaller area than a famous one. So well known and famous, essentially have the same meaning. But a well known person and a famous person, which person is known more, obviously the famous person. And of course, it’s up to you to decide whether a person or a thing is well known, or more than that famous. For example, let’s see how we can use well known a club run by Paul Ross, a well known Lakeland climber. While you might not all know who Paul Ross is, but he is a well known Lakeland climber. Some people know him, but not as many as famous when we want to talk about famous, it doesn’t have to be world famous, but usually a lot more people know about this person, or, for example, His two well known books on modern art, but obviously, not everybody knows about those books, especially because they’re on modern art. So these books will be interesting to people who are interested in modern art. So well known books is a good word, your famous books, we’re talking about people like Stephen King, people are famous all around the world, or JK Rowling, something like that. But again, knowing the difference between well known and famous Don’t worry about using them interchangeably sometimes, because remember, essentially, they both have the same meaning. Now let’s talk about spelling, well known can be spelled with or without a hyphen, usually spell it with a hyphen in front of a noun, and without a hyphen after a verb. That’s the usual thing. It’s a technical thing, but if you would like to learn about it, so if you say I took him to a well known doctor in Harley Street, here, we put a hyphen because we use it in front of a noun. But after a verb when we say the building became very well known that came after a verb, we don’t use a hyphen, but that is just some technicality for those of you who are interested in those technicalities, but now for the more important thing, we talked about famous and well known, yes, there are similar but there are some differences. What about notorious What does it mean? Is it related to famous? Yes, of course, someone or something that is notorious is well known for something that is bad or undesirable. So if you want to say a notorious person, that means this person is famous or well known, but not for something good. For example, we say the area was notorious for murders famous what famous for something good no famous for something bad, well known for something that is bad or undesirable for murders. Or when we talk about a person’s notorious arrogance, notorious arrogance. This person is very famous for his or her arrogance. And is it a good thing? No, of course not notorious, not famous, notorious arrogance. And now that brings me to the last word this episode, and that is infamous people and things are described as infamous when they are well known because they are connected with wicked or cruel behavior. So you don’t use this word for just silly bad thing no for serious bad stuff for cruel behavior. For example, the infamous serial killer known as the Boston Strangler For the infamous shower scene from psycho, psycho, that’s a movie by Alfred Hitchcock. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it or not. But there is this very famous scene but it is a famous scene actually, because it’s a movie. It’s not real. We’re gonna say famous, but it is the infamous because it is connected with wicked and cruel behavior, the infamous shower scene, but I will have to tell you that infamous is a rather literary word. We don’t usually use it in everyday conversation. In everyday conversation. You can see people use famous for good stuff and bad stuff. They don’t use infamous a lot. But infamous is a very good word. And it is not just about using literary words, but it’s about using strong words from time to time that certainly doesn’t hurt your language but enriches your language. And with that being said, that is everything I wanted to share with you for today. Thank you very much for listening to another usage tips episode from English plus podcast. This is your host Danny, I will see you next time.

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