Ask Difference

Infamy vs. Fame — What's the Difference?

By Tayyaba Rehman & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 8, 2024
Infamy is notorious for negative reasons, evoking disdain or moral outrage, while fame represents widespread recognition and admiration.
Infamy vs. Fame — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Infamy and Fame


Key Differences

Infamy signifies being well-known for unfavorable reasons, such as actions or characteristics that society deems reprehensible. This form of notoriety often carries a negative connotation, associating individuals or events with disgrace or immoral behavior. On the other hand, fame is the state of being known by many people for one's achievements, talents, or virtues. It generally implies a positive recognition and is sought after by individuals in various fields such as entertainment, sports, and arts.
While infamy can sometimes bring about a perverse form of attention, leading to a certain level of public fascination or intrigue, it is primarily viewed in a negative light. Notorious figures or events are often remembered with a sense of caution or as lessons on moral boundaries. Conversely, fame, especially when rooted in positive contributions or exceptional talent, tends to inspire admiration, aspiration, and respect. Famous individuals often become role models, influencing public opinion and culture.
The path to infamy versus fame can differ markedly. Infamy is often the result of controversial actions, scandals, or crimes that shock, offend, or disrupt societal norms. These actions lead to public outcry, legal consequences, and in some cases, a lasting stain on one's legacy. Fame, in contrast, is usually achieved through hard work, exceptional skill, positive contributions to society, or remarkable achievements that earn widespread acclaim and respect.
The impact of infamy and fame on an individual's life and legacy can be profound. Infamy may result in ostracization, legal penalties, or a permanent negative imprint on one's historical record. It often carries a social stigma that affects not only the individual involved but also their associates or family. Fame, however, can open doors to opportunities, wealth, and influence, though it also comes with its challenges, including loss of privacy and high public expectations.
In today's digital age, the line between infamy and fame can sometimes blur, with some individuals seeking any form of public attention, regardless of its nature. Social media and the internet have amplified the speed and reach of both infamy and fame, making it possible for individuals to achieve a global presence almost overnight. Yet, the fundamental distinction remains: fame is generally sought for the positive light it casts on an individual, while infamy is a notorious recognition that most would prefer to avoid.

Comparison Chart


Notoriety for negative reasons
Widespread recognition and admiration


Negative, associated with disgrace
Positive, associated with achievements

Impact on Legacy

Often leaves a permanent stain
Tends to inspire and earn respect

Common Pathways

Controversial actions, scandals, crimes
Hard work, exceptional talent, positive contributions

Public Reaction

Ostracization, moral outrage
Admiration, aspiration

Compare with Definitions


Associated with disgrace and dishonor.
The scandal brought infamy upon the entire organization.


Can inspire and influence public opinion.
Her fame as an activist sparked significant change.


Notoriety for negative actions or qualities.
The spy gained infamy for his betrayals.


Being known and admired by many.
The inventor's breakthrough earned her worldwide fame.


Leaves a negative imprint on one's legacy.
Despite his achievements, his mistakes condemned him to infamy.


Associated with positive achievements or qualities.
His generosity and talent brought him fame.


Often results in public disdain or outrage.
His actions at the event earned him instant infamy.


Offers opportunities but may challenge privacy.
His fame brought wealth, but at the cost of privacy.


Can be a result of legal or moral transgressions.
Their widespread fraud led to a legacy of infamy.


Achieved through hard work, skill, or contributions.
Years of dedication to his craft led to his fame.


Infamy, in common usage, is the notoriety gained from a negative incident or reputation (as opposed to fame). The word stems from the Latin infamia, antonym of fama (in the sense of "good reputation").


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


Very bad reputation; notoriety
Achieved infamy as the central figure in the scandal.


Public estimation; reputation
A politician of ill fame.


The condition of being infamous; disgrace
A name that will live in infamy.


(Archaic) Rumor.


An evil or criminal act that is publicly known.


To make renowned or famous.


The state of being infamous.


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


The state of having a reputation as being evil.


Something said or reported; gossip, rumour.


A reprehensible occurrence or situation.


One's reputation.


(legal) A stigma attaching to a person's character that disqualifies them from being a witness.


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


Total loss of reputation; public disgrace; dishonor; ignominy; indignity.
The afflicted queen would not yield, and said she would not . . . submit to such infamy.


(transitive) to make (someone or something) famous


A quality which exposes to disgrace; extreme baseness or vileness; as, the infamy of an action.


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


That loss of character, or public disgrace, which a convict incurs, and by which he is at common law rendered incompetent as a witness.
Yesterday, Dec. 7, 1941 - a day which will live in infamy, . . .


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.


A state of extreme dishonor;
A date which will live in infamy
The name was a by-word of scorn and opprobrium throughout the city


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


Evil fame or public reputation


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

Can someone be both infamous and famous?

Yes, individuals can be known for both positive contributions and negative actions, affecting their legacy complexly.

What is the main difference between infamy and fame?

Infamy is notoriety for negative reasons, while fame is recognition for positive achievements.

How do fame and infamy affect personal relationships?

Both can strain personal relationships, with infamy bringing disdain and fame introducing pressures and loss of privacy.

How does society typically respond to infamous vs. famous individuals?

Society tends to ostracize the infamous and admire the famous, though reactions can vary based on context.

How has social media changed the dynamics of fame and infamy?

Social media has accelerated and broadened the reach of both, making it easier to achieve widespread recognition or notoriety.

Is fame always desirable?

While many seek fame for its benefits, it can come with challenges like loss of privacy and high expectations.

How do fame and infamy affect one's mental health?

Both can have significant impacts, with infamy often leading to stress and isolation, and fame to pressure and anxiety.

Are there any benefits to infamy?

While generally negative, infamy can sometimes bring attention or a perverse form of fascination.

Does the impact of fame and infamy differ across cultures?

Cultural values can influence the perception and consequences of fame and infamy, making some actions more acceptable or condemnable.

Can infamy be redeemed into fame?

In some cases, individuals can change public perception through positive actions, turning infamy into a form of fame.

What role does the media play in fame and infamy?

The media can amplify, shape, or skew public perception, playing a crucial role in the trajectory of both.

Can infamy affect one's career?

Yes, infamy can severely damage professional opportunities and relationships.

What is the psychological allure of fame?

Fame offers validation, admiration, and a sense of achievement, fulfilling a desire for recognition and influence.

What are the legal implications of infamy?

Infamy, especially due to criminal actions, can result in legal consequences and a lasting negative reputation.

How do historical figures embody fame and infamy?

Many historical figures are remembered for their contributions (fame) or misdeeds (infamy), influencing how they are perceived today.

Share Your Discovery

Share via Social Media
Embed This Content
Embed Code
Share Directly via Messenger
Previous Comparison
Carmine vs. Crimson
Next Comparison
Cow vs. Fish

Author Spotlight

Written by
Tayyaba Rehman
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.
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

Popular Comparisons

Trending Comparisons

New Comparisons

Trending Terms