famous OR infamous?
These two adjectives have rather different meanings, and different pronunciations. In simple terms, the difference is:
famous = well-known
infamous = well-known for something bad
If somebody is famous, then many people know about that person. Here are some famous people. You probably know all or most of them:
- Michael Jackson
- William Shakespeare
- Adolf Hitler
- George Bush
- Queen Elizabeth II
- Osama bin Laden
- Elvis Presley
Notice that famous people can be good or bad. Famous does not "judge" people. It is just a statement that somebody is well-known.
If somebody is infamous, then many people know about that person because he did something bad. He has a "bad reputation".
Look at these example sentences:
- The Louvre is a famous museum in Paris.
- She is an infamous war criminal, wanted by Interpol.
- Jack the Ripper was one of the most infamous murderers of all time.
- What was Adolf Hitler famous for?
- William Shakespeare is probably the most famous English writer.
- Who is more famous - George Bush or Saddam Hussein?
- Pol Pot was an infamous Cambodian dictator who caused the deaths of millions.
Notice that famous can describe people or things; but infamous is usually used for people.
In both words the stress is on the first syllable, which means that they sound very different.
famous FA-mous /ˈfeɪməs/
infamous IN-fa-mous /ˈɪnfəməs/