This question about why the first Selma-Montgomery march is called "infamous" was put on hold a day or two ago for lack of research. The asker has now quoted the dictionary definition that was consulted, including a link (dictionary.com).

I don't think that this is a case where consulting the dictionary definition helps—in fact, rather the opposite. While it's true that the word infamous is regularly used for events and locations that are not, in themselves, evil, most dictionary definitions strongly suggest or even flat-out state that the word is used for people or events that are "bad" either inherently or in action. Examples tend in this direction, as well. For example, the definition that pops up from a Google search is (emphasis mine):

well known for some bad quality or deed.
"an infamous war criminal"
synonyms: notorious, disreputable; More

  • wicked; abominable.
    "the medical council disqualified him for infamous misconduct"

(A third, technical legal definition is even more confusing.)

Given this emphasis in dictionaries on badness of the thing described as infamous, it seems reasonable to me that someone would be confused about whether it is appropriate to call an event that was attacked, rather than the attackers, infamous.

TL;DR: The questioner said early on that they were confused about the definition, and has since added the requested definition, and has stated what is confusing about that definition vis-à-vis the specific usage. I think this meets all of our requirements for an on-topic question.

  • I have an issue with this question too. I'm not sure what the solution is when people have different opinions and especially when the British use of the word must be different than the way we typically use it in the states. The divide is so big on this event, and it is of so much importance that the event be seen as a historical demonstration of pride and resolve to use such an extremely denigrating word in any way that it could be misconstrued isn't worth choosing that alternative.
    – Tom22
    Jan 20, 2017 at 5:26
  • When the NAACP takes pride in the pivotal historical event, catergorizing the event by the actions of those -not- in the march, undermines the important ideas that it was part of the non-violence movement, that the participants did not riot but were attacked and so much more. Here is how those that have the most claim on the event cast it: naacp.org/latest/…
    – Tom22
    Jan 20, 2017 at 5:33

1 Answer 1


I thought it was a great question, and had already voted to reopen.

Note that, with your rep, you are also allowed to vote to reopen. You're not listed as one of the people who reopened it.

Unfortunately it has attracted a further two votes-to-close.

  • 1
    Hmm, I thought I had nominated it for re-opening; if not, that was an embarrassing oversight! I guess if it gets closed again, I'll have another chance :p.
    – 1006a
    Jan 25, 2017 at 17:36

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