Famous/Infamous/Notorious

We all know that famous means well-known.

The goof comes when we use notorious as a synonym for famous, or notoriety as a synonym for fame.

Infamous and notorious mean famous FOR A BAD REASON. If someone achieves notoriety, it’s for doing something you would probably be ashamed of or embarrassed about. The bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941 has been called a day “which will live in infamy” (italics mine). That’s an excellent and appropriate use of the word.

So unless you’re a complete contrarian or something of a sociopath, you shouldn’t want to be infamous or notorious. That simply means you’re well-known for doing something wrong or dumb. We also shouldn’t be calling someone notorious just because they’ve become famous for something. That’s incorrect and an insult.

One can be both famous and infamous, of course (e.g., people with the last name of Kardashian). Personally, I don’t want to be famous, but if it happened for something good, then that would be OK. But I would never want to be infamous or notorious.

If you do want to be infamous or notorious, talk to a counselor. Seriously.

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Across

Your mind has a week off with this easy one. It’s simple: Across doesn’t end with a “t”.

Keep your ears open. Lots of people add the letter “t” to across and it comes out sounding like ‘acrossed.”

Perhaps the “t” has been added because many of us say something like “We went across to the whatever….” We slide right from the “s” of across and right into the “t” of to.

That’s cool. But let’s leave the “t” with to when we don’t follow across with that word.

My apologies—you might start hearing “acrossed” all over the place now. I hope you don’t.

Imply/Infer

Person A is talking to Person B. Person A says that Person B’s girlfriend has no personality, is only interested in Person B’s money and has negatively impacted Person B’s manners, wardrobe and personal cleanliness since knowing her.

Person A is implying (suggesting, indicating but not stating directly) that Person B might consider breaking up with his girlfriend.

If Person B hears the implication and gets the same idea, he is correctly inferring (deducing, concluding) what Person A is suggesting.

If you suggest a course of action or change of perspective without directly stating it, you are implying something. If someone picks up what you are implying, then they are inferring what you are saying.

And if Person B hears all these things that Person A is implying regarding his girlfriend and he infers that she’s great and he should continue dating her, then he is inferring incorrectly and is probably kind of stupid.