What is the one-word for a piece — art piece etc., maybe topic, subject — that has gained popularity through negative reviews or appraisals?

In other words, I am looking for a one-word noun or adjective that is the opposite of rave in the sense "favorable critism".

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    So first you need the opposite of a rave review, and then you need one that has gained positive notice as a result? Or can it be any notice whatsoever, even a negative one? That is, it can not just famous but infamous?
    – tchrist
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:20
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    Do you want a verb, noun, adjective? rave can be a noun, verb or adjective. A bit more context would be helpful. Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:30
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    "Raving" doesn't particular mean good or bad: it can usually mean excited talking.
    – xserf
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:38
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    If the review is angry enough, you could use RAVE in the RAVING MAD sense...
    – Oldcat
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 22:09
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    It's not clear to me how these requests are connected. Something that has gained popularity through negative reviews is not something that I would name or describe with an antonym for “rave”. Can you share anything about the context of this need that would clarify how this is one thing? Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 21:24

8 Answers 8


Well an antonym of "rave" would probably be "pan".


a harsh criticism

but perhaps you really want notorious,


well-known or famous especially for something bad

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    Rant also goes well with rave, although not in this context. +1 for notorious. Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 20:05
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    There are plenty of famous works that are referred to as having been "universally panned by critics". My vote's here. Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 3:14
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    Infamous is an alternative to notorious, though many people either misuse or misunderstand the word (assuming it to mean simply famous).
    – Doc
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 18:08
  • @Doc I know, see my comment to the "infamy" answer below. Also, tchrist commented with "infamous" almost as soon as the question was posted. Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 18:09
  • @ElliottFrisch Just trying to add detail for any reader's sake. Not everyone reads comments to non-top-voted answers or even the question when browsing for their own sake. Wasn't trying to imply that you were in any way unaware.
    – Doc
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 19:24

I would go with infamy or its close cousin infamous.

the state of being well known for some bad quality or deed.

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    the word for the " piece of art , maybe topic which has gained infamy" ? i feel the question could be paraphrased like this.... but it is not "the word"
    – Argot
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:36
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    @Argot It could be an infamous (or notorious) piece. Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:52
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    this is i like , "close cousin"-- phrases like these cheer me up for some reason
    – Argot
    Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:55
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    I hope it's not because you have feelings for a cousin! Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:57

There is a loan phrase from French: succès de scandale

(Literary & Literary Critical Terms) success of a play, book, etc, because of notoriety or its scandalous character

[literally: success of scandal]

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    Seems similar in meaning (and intent) to "no such thing as bad publicity". Commented Apr 2, 2014 at 18:50

Scathing comes to mind as an adjective.

bitterly severe, as a remark: another restaurant has fallen victim to one of her scathing reviews


In BrE, rubbish, used as a verb, is a common word these days for the act of pouring scorn on a performance or an artistic work. His book was rubbished by the critics. He rubbished her stand-up act.

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    Though, in my experience, this is used only by tabloid newspapers. Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 8:30
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    The closest AmE might be trashed.
    – Phil Perry
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 21:36

Savage can be used as a noun an adjective or a verb for this purpose.

to attack or criticize thoroughly or remorselessly; excoriate: a play savaged by the critics.

A savage review

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    Post edit: there is no noun usage for savage in this sense; it is only a verb. All nounal usages for savage are for a type of person, none relating to a critic.
    – Patrick M
    Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 15:29

Something popular despite (and because of) widespread negative reception

“Notorious” is certainly a fine word for describing “a piece [. . .] that has gained popularity through negative reviews or appraisals”. I would also consider use of related terms like “guilty pleasure”, “kitch”, “(something) we love to hate”, or “so bad it's good” depending on the material and context. There's also the term “cult” to describe these sorts of pieces (esp. “cult classic”) or their followings.

If you have some space to explain yourself, you might consider coining “the Regretsy effect” which you could describe as the curious phenomenon of explosive sales after a craft posting was criticized on the (now defunct) crafting ‘lowlight’ aggregator.

Antonym for “rave”

1. Commentary on available options

— — Verb — —
“Pan” is used a lot, but I hear and read it much more often as a past-tense verb (not a noun), e.g.:

The film was universally panned by critics.

Ebert panned the film, decrying its sympathetic portrayal of a violent protagonist.

— — Adjective — —
If the word describes “review”, I think you're better off using “very critical” or “scathing”, c.f.:

I read a scathing review of that movie.
I read a rave review of that movie.

— — Noun — —
In that example, “review” could be taken out of the latter, and it would still make sense as a noun:

I read a rave about that movie.

If your desire is a replacement for that usage, there isn’t a great one-word substitution. “Pan” is fine, but is less recognizable:

I read a pan of that movie.

You might be better off just forcing the verb in that case:

I read a panning of that movie.

There's also “(a) rant”, but that is difficult to recognize outside of collocations with “rave”.

2. My suggestions

It's not a single word, but as far as noun phrases go you might consider “hit piece” as in:

“Did you read the A.V. Club review of Howard Cantour.com?
“Yeah, basically a hit piece.”

This has lots of problems itself, and is basically a metaphorical usage of the primary definition that has more to do with politics and is very similar to “smear campaign”. It also adds in a bit of negativity about the review, possibly conveying that the person using this term believed the review was overly harsh or resorted to ad hominem.

If you can trust context to communicate that you are talking about a review, you might just go fully metaphorical and say something like:

Ebert's evisceration of Transformers comes as no surprise to anyone who knows his opinion of Michael Bay's characteristically baroque usage of CG.

There's also “takedown”, for which you probably won't find much dictionary backing (I couldn't) but might be useful in its modern usage (such as seen here).

  • Very nice answer... but rather then "takedown" I might use put-down. Commented Apr 4, 2014 at 18:09

For the sake of alliteration, ridiculed

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    Alliteration with what? Commented Apr 3, 2014 at 21:28
  • As in "raved or ridiculed" Commented Apr 5, 2014 at 1:15

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