Infamous and famous

I don’t understand when these are used, and what the difference is. Can anyone explain?

Famous is when your known for something good like Winston Churchill. Infamous is being famous for something bad like Joseph Mengele. It can also be used to describe something like. Joseph Mengele was infamously involved with the medical experiments done at Auschwitz-Birkenau.

The Winston Churchill etc example shows a very stark way of using infamous. Here in the UK we occasionally use the word with a certain smile. When I met a friend of a friend at last, after having heard about him for years, I greeted him with "Ah, so you are the infamous Greg, I’ve heard all about your exploits! This was a very relaxed situation, otherwise I would not have used ‘infamous’ but rather ‘famous’.

N.B. You will remember that English is quite famous, some would say infamous, for its variations in spelling and stress. Here we have the stress on IN in infamous and so the pronunciation of -amous is short and flat. Famous, on the other hand, has the famous long “AY” sound. I famously enjoyed writing this :slight_smile:

On a side note: I still wonder how many students of English were really surprised to find out the peculiar difference in the pronunciation of these two words… :slight_smile:

For years I thought you just needed to add the prefix to pronounce “infamous” correctly…

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It’s more of an “Infahmous”, isn’t it? Like the “ah, I see” sound.

Exactly. Pretty surprising. That’s why I like English. It’s so full of surprises despite the common belief that it’s a simple language.