Are You Infamous or More Than Famous?

I couldn’t resist devoting one post on this since one of my favorite bits in the movie The Three Amigos (although there are so many good bits!) is when the three actors get the urgent telegram requesting them to come down to Mexico to face the infamous El Guapo. What follows is a little explanation from one amigo to the other, saying that “infamous means ‘more than famous.'” For the record, in case you don’t know the meaning of the word, infamous means having an evil reputation, or when describing an act—an infamous crime—you would be emphasizing the disgrace this act brings upon the one perpetrating it. (Should I be so bold as to say FDR was using the term incorrectly when he referred to the day of the Pearl Harbor bombing as “a day that will go down in infamy”?)

There is a slight difference, also, between infamous and notorious. Both mean “well-known for some disreputable or wicked quality, deed, or event,” but notorious emphasizes the “well-known” aspect and is often misused to just apply to famous (not infamous) individuals or events. Infamous emphasizes the wickedness aspect, and the person doesn’t have to be well-known. You can have infamous behavior and be a nobody. And if you want to delve into another amigo word-explanation, the bit on the meaning of plethora between El Guapo and his sidekick is too funny. Trust me and just watch the movie.

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  1. I am actually both. When my children were in school, I was a child advocate. The staff would see me coming and ask she she smiling or not. If I was smiling it was just another day. If I was not, it meant I was going to grow to ten feet tall and in someone’s face. Notorious or infamous doesn’t always have to be criminal.

    I loved the movie.

  2. I’m glad you took the time to explain. There is definitely a difference between the two and they aren’t always used correctly. I enjoyed this blog post.

  3. The “in famous” vs “infamous” is actually a meme in my household, a reminder to kids not to let their egos get too big. The Three Amigos is one of our favorite movies, for great lines that like–delivered with perfection by Steve Martin–and for the subtle way the movie uses the Spanish language. El Guapo means “The Handsome One” when the character is certainly not. The town is “Santa Poco” or Saint Little Bit and the bar is called “El Borracho”–The Drunk.

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