Issue 181, page 3

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curmdgeon.GIF (1254 bytes) Curmudgeons' Corner

Guestmudgeon Jake Cuttler isn't notorious - yet:

I so often hear the word notoriety in place of recognition. When a person receives notoriety, it really means that he or she is obtaining infamy or being known for something bad. Recognition is the proper word when speaking about a person receiving accolades or doing something positive.  I just wanted to point out this common blunder that I must listen to so frequently.

Interestingly, notorious used to mean simply "well known", but that line of usage is now considered rare, while the "undesirable" connotation is more frequent with notorious these days.  However, notoriety is still defined by the OED as "the fact of being publicly or commonly known", though the Encarta College Dictionary defines notoriety as "the condition of being well known for some unsavory or undesirable reason".  To be clear, we advise use of the notor- words in the "undesirable" context whenever possible.  Fame or recognition are good substitutes for notoriety when nothing negative is intended.

Have you heard or read similar or equally distressing usages?

Do tell us. 

Read this before commenting on this week's Curmudgeons' Corner

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