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Fame vs. Notoriety — What's the Difference?

Edited by Tayyaba Rehman — By Maham Liaqat — Updated on April 30, 2024
Fame generally refers to widespread recognition for positive achievements; notoriety, on the other hand, implies being known for negative reasons.
Fame vs. Notoriety — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Fame and Notoriety


Key Differences

Fame is typically associated with positive public recognition and respect, often resulting from one's achievements or talents. Notoriety, meanwhile, suggests infamy or being known widely in a negative light, often due to one's actions or scandals.
Famous individuals are often celebrated and admired in various fields such as arts, science, and sports. Notorious figures, however, are usually subjects of public disapproval or controversy, stemming from their involvement in less commendable activities.
While fame can lead to endorsements, increased opportunities, and a legacy of admiration, notoriety might result in public backlash, legal issues, and a tarnished reputation.
Being famous generally contributes positively to a person’s brand and public image, enhancing their influence and societal status. Conversely, notoriety can complicate personal and professional relationships, impacting one's ability to capitalize on their public persona.
Fame is often sought after and cherished as a measure of success and societal contribution. In contrast, notoriety is typically unwanted and arises as a consequence of questionable actions or misdeeds.

Comparison Chart



Result of

Achievements, talents
Controversial actions, scandals

Public perception

Admiration, respect
Disapproval, controversy

Impact on opportunities

Increases opportunities
Often limits or complicates opportunities


Generally sought after
Generally avoided

Compare with Definitions


The condition of being famous or celebrated.
His fame was not just due to his acting skills but also his charitable activities.


The state of being famous or well known for some bad quality or deed.
He gained notoriety for his involvement in the political scandal.


Renown or widespread recognition due to positive achievements.
Her fame as a novelist grew after her book won a prestigious award.


A negative form of celebrity due to undesirable actions.
Her notoriety arose from numerous legal battles.


Popularity or widespread acclaim.
Her fame in the dance community is well-deserved.


Being ill-famed or notorious.
His notoriety as a con artist made headlines.


The state of being known or talked about by many people, especially in a positive way.
He reached a level of fame that few artists ever achieve.


Widespread recognition or fame in terms of negative aspects.
Her notoriety overshadowed her earlier achievements.


Public eminence or recognition for good reasons.
The scientist gained fame for her contribution to renewable energy technologies.


Infamous or known widely in an unfavorable sense.
The gang was known for its notoriety in the region.


The state of being widely known, widely recognized, or of great popular interest
A singer of international fame.


The quality or condition of being notorious. See Usage Note at notorious.


Public estimation; reputation
A politician of ill fame.


An infamous or notorious condition or reputation.


(Archaic) Rumor.


The quality or condition of being notorious; the state of being generally or publicly known; - commonly used in an unfavorable sense; as, the notoriety of a crime.
They were not subjects in their own nature so exposed to public notoriety.


To make renowned or famous.


The state of being known for some unfavorable act or quality


(Archaic) To report to be
"The fancy cannot cheat so well / As she is famed to do" (John Keats).


Something said or reported; gossip, rumour.


One's reputation.


The state of being famous or well-known and spoken of.


(transitive) to make (someone or something) famous


Public report or rumor.
The fame thereof was heard in Pharaoh's house.


Report or opinion generally diffused; renown; public estimation; celebrity, either favorable or unfavorable; as, the fame of Washington.
I find thou art no less than fame hath bruited.


To report widely or honorably.
The field where thou art famedTo have wrought such wonders.


To make famous or renowned.
Those Hesperian gardens famed of old.


The state or quality of being widely honored and acclaimed


Favorable public reputation

Common Curiosities

What is the main difference between fame and notoriety?

Fame is positive recognition for achievements, while notoriety is being known for negative reasons.

Can a person be both famous and notorious?

Yes, individuals can be both famous and notorious, depending on their actions and public perception.

Does notoriety always have negative consequences?

Notoriety often has negative consequences, but it can also bring attention and notability in some fields.

Is fame always beneficial?

While generally beneficial, fame can also bring undue pressure and loss of privacy.

Can notoriety change into fame?

Notoriety can potentially evolve into fame if a person's subsequent actions redeem their earlier negative public image.

How does media contribute to fame and notoriety?

Media plays a crucial role in shaping both fame and notoriety by highlighting certain actions, achievements, or scandals.

What are examples of professions where fame is common?

Acting, sports, and music are fields where fame is commonly pursued and achieved.

How do people typically respond to famous versus notorious individuals?

People tend to admire famous individuals and may be critical or wary of notorious ones.

What kind of actions typically lead to notoriety?

Actions like scandals, criminal activities, or highly controversial behaviors often lead to notoriety.

What impact does fame have on a person's life compared to notoriety?

Fame can enhance a person's life with more opportunities, whereas notoriety can complicate or diminish quality of life.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Tayyaba Rehman is a distinguished writer, currently serving as a primary contributor to As a researcher in semantics and etymology, Tayyaba's passion for the complexity of languages and their distinctions has found a perfect home on the platform. Tayyaba delves into the intricacies of language, distinguishing between commonly confused words and phrases, thereby providing clarity for readers worldwide.

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