This is part of the dif­fer­ence between series.

Recent­ly, I saw some­one use infa­mous when they meant famous. Here’s the dif­fer­ence between the two.


To be famous is to be wide­ly known. Movie stars are famous. Cer­tain world lead­ers are famous. Pro­fes­sion­al ath­letes are famous.

Some­thing can also be famous because of some­thing they do. For exam­ple, a local restau­rant might be famous for their piz­zas baked in wood fired ovens.


Infa­mous also has to do with being well known. The dif­fer­ence, how­ev­er, is that infa­mous has a neg­a­tive con­no­ta­tion. Con­vict­ed ser­i­al killers would be infa­mous. Out­laws would be infa­mous. War crim­i­nals would be infa­mous.

Con­sid­er these two exam­ples:

  • Meryl Streep, a famous actor, has received more oscar nom­i­na­tions than any oth­er actor.
  • Bil­ly the Kid was an infa­mous out­law, who killed 8 peo­ple, escaped prison, and rus­tled cat­tle.

Which words do you con­fuse? Let me know in the com­ments below.

Inter­est­ed in more gram­mar tips like this? Sign up for our free month­ly newslet­ter.

About Kim Siever

I am a copy­writer and copy­ed­i­tor. I blog on writ­ing tips most­ly, but I some­times throw in my thoughts about run­ning a small busi­ness.

Fol­low me on Twit­ter at @hotpepper.

Free monthlywriting &social media tips!

Free monthlywriting &social media tips!

Sign up to receive monthly writing and social media tips.

Thanks for signing up for our monthly writing tips!

Pin It on Pinterest