[fey-muh s]


having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned; celebrated: a famous writer.
Informal. first-rate; excellent: The singer gave a famous performance.
notorious (used pejoratively).

Origin of famous

1350–1400; Middle English < Anglo-French < Latin fāmōsus. See fame, -ous
Related formsfa·mous·ly, adverbfa·mous·ness, nouno·ver·fa·mous, adjectivepre·fa·mous, adjectivepre·fa·mous·ly, adverbpseu·do·fa·mous, adjectivepseu·do·fa·mous·ly, adverbqua·si-fa·mous, adjectivequa·si-fa·mous·ly, adverbun·fa·mous, adjective
Can be confusedfamous infamous notorious

Synonym study

1. Famous, celebrated, eminent, distinguished refer to someone or something widely and favorably known. Famous is the general word: a famous lighthouse. Celebrated originally referred to something commemorated, but now usually refers to someone or something widely known for conspicuous merit, services, etc.: a celebrated writer. Eminent implies high standing among one's contemporaries, especially in one's own profession or craft: an eminent physician. Distinguished adds to eminent the idea of honors conferred more or less publicly: a distinguished scientist.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for famous

Contemporary Examples of famous

Historical Examples of famous

  • It produced no great generals and statesmen and no famous Kings.

    Ancient Man

    Hendrik Willem van Loon

  • To Cimabue succeeded his pupil, the famous Giotto, who died in 1337.

  • Some day, when I am rich and famous, I shall look back on all this with regret.

    Ballads of a Bohemian

    Robert W. Service

  • For a moment he was back in a famous clinic, and this man across from him—it was not believable!


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • A few years ago the famous geographer, Joanne, was silent on both.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

British Dictionary definitions for famous



known to or recognized by many people; renowned
informal excellent; splendid
archaic of ill repute
Derived Formsfamousness, noun

Word Origin for famous

C14: from Latin fāmōsus; see fame
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for famous

late 14c., from Anglo-French famous, Old French fameus (Modern French fameux), from Latin famosus "much talked of, renowned," often "infamous, notorious, of ill repute," from fama (see fame (n.)). A native word for this was Old English namcuð, literally "name-known." Catch phrase famous last words "remark likely to be proved wrong" is first attested 1948.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper