A Tainted Word

“The crow’s nest, where a lookout once shouted an infamous warning–‘Iceberg right ahead!’–has vanished.”


“Where the Titanic Shipwreck Rests, New Photos Reveal Extensive Decay”

– New York Times, William J. Broad, August 21, 2019



The word “infamous” is meant to convey something intentionally evil. The sailor quoted here was simply pointing out an obstacle in the path of the ship. Kingsley Amis wrote in his book The King’s English, “The adjective weakened in severity to something on the level of ‘notorious’…infamous is now unusable through ambiguity.”


Don’t say “infamous.” Don’t say “famous.”