"infamous" = celebrated

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Mar 14 18:01:47 UTC 2006

At 11:30 AM -0500 3/14/06, sagehen wrote:
>I take it back. The article pokes fun at the "Ig Nobel Prize." So the
>meaning of "infamous" here seems to be "well-known for being amusing."
>   Still noteworthy, I hope.
>   JL
>Aw, heck.  I was just trying to fit this in with the development fifty-some
>years ago when the possible misunderstanding of "inflammable" (did it mean
>"combustible" or "incombustible") seems to have struck the consumer product
>safety people and they  ordered labels changed to "flammable" or
>"non-flammable" to avoid ambiguity.  Let's see, does "infamous" intensify

Well, the same process seems to have occurred with "notorious", which
(as I recall our discussing here at some point) seems to have lost
its [+ for negative reasons] feature for many speakers and come to
mean just 'very famous'.  And there's no prefix to blame in that
case, although I suppose it does sound/look as though it might have
just been a fancy way of saying "noted".  Cf. also "enormity", which
has evidently maintained both senses (the evaluatively unmarked and
the necessarily negative) for centuries.


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