Today’s Writing Tip Is on Famous Versus Infamous

Oftentimes as an editor, I see people confuse the word infamous with famous, but they mean entirely different things.

Fame brings celebrity. It means that someone is well-known, and the connotation is generally, although not always, positive. Natalie Portman is a famous actress.

Infamous means that someone is well-known for an unsavory, contentious or salacious reason. It’s synonymous with notorious — no one has solved the mystery of the murder of the infamous Biggie Smalls.

Some people are famous and infamous — Madonna, Alec Baldwin, Eminem, Mel Gibson… There is a long list of people who are easily recognizable, but also push other people’s buttons because they’ve said or done something controversial. So, it’s possible to be both famous and infamous, or just famous, or just infamous. (The Arizona shooter and the Unabomber are just infamous. Not many people admire them, and they gained fame by doing something heinous.)

Learn more about word usage in my third book, Be Your Own Editor, a manual for students and writers of all ages and stages. Available on Amazon in print and in the Amazon Kindle store [ ].