From an article at the end of a long stream of clicks:

So ended one of the most notorious (and mostly unknown until now) chapters in NFL history.

This is a sentence that leaves one staring into the screen in puzzlement. Dr. Boli has not run into this meaning of “notorious” before. But it is an adjective, after all, and as a certain Mr. Dumpty once said: “They’ve a temper, some of them—particularly verbs: they’re the proudest—adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs—however, I can manage the whole lot of them! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”


  1. Ben Ieghn says:

    I suppose this is likened to being notorious (mostly) only in ones own imagination…the most notorious part of the encounter certainly occurred after Allen and Snyder left the room, so it may remain unknown…as everyone knows that NFL owner’s are notoriously tight-lipped except, “Snyder, who has emerged as one of the most important—and notorious—owners in the NFL.”

  2. We need a new word, methinks, for this alternate meaning of notorious, which seems to be “barely known by anyone, but by those few who know it at all, known to be very bad indeed”. I nominate “prothonotorious” for the honor.

    • Captain DaFt says:

      “So ended one of the most notorious (and mostly unknown until now) chapters in NFL history.”

      Simple case of the writer simply replacing the simple word with a fancier one to sound smarter, and showing his ignorance.

      Try, “So ended one of the worst (and mostly unknown until now) chapters in NFL history.”

      That’s better.

  3. John M says:

    To my thinking, the author was trying for a Princess Bride homage, expecting someone to say: “This word you keep using – I do not think it means what you think it means…”

  4. I’m notorious for being unknown.

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

  5. Texan99 says:

    The original (late 15th-century) meaning was simply well-known. Later it picked up the connotation of famously “bad,” and now apparently in the popular view it’s begun to mean simply “bad,” whether in secret or public This drift toward a simple insult happens to a lot of words, like “villain.”

  6. mikeski says:

    That was a huge mistake. I can hardly comprehend the enormity of it.

  7. I wrote a poem about this issue: “Semantic Drift.”

    Jeffery Hodges

    * * *

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