I've tried looking into this, but mostly I just get "factual" I'm looking for the opposite of a person who is a legend for doing good things. What would the opposite of Odysseus be? Kind of like for famous there's infamous. What's a person who's a legend, but not for good reasons? Is there a word for it?

  • 3
    Legend is not linked to any moral opinion as to one's actions. Legend mainly means that the story is (mostly) made up, but worth telling again and again. So, yes, the opposite would be factual. Odysseus is not a legend, his story is a legend. Odysseus is a hero, if you want. Then again, many legends are about people doing evil or bad things (or simply stupid), think of the story of king Midas (a legend about a king who was punished for his greed).
    – oerkelens
    Aug 11, 2015 at 9:17
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    Your question could use some clarification. Do you want famous or legendary? Real or not? Because the opposite of a legend, to my thinking, is a "nobody" kind of answer. As @oerkelens stated, lots of legendary characters are evil, stupid, or otherwise undeserving of a positive connotation of "legend". Aug 11, 2015 at 9:20
  • @oerkelens: "Odysseus is not a legend, his story is a legend. " Actually, in AmE, we often say things like "He was a legend in his own time." or "He is a baseball legend".
    – TimR
    Aug 11, 2015 at 12:24
  • @TimRomano indeed, but then legend seems to be used as a synonym for hero or legendary person, and it has indeed a positive connotation. The antonyms that the OP found were for the story-meaning of legend, I may have read the question too narrowly.
    – oerkelens
    Aug 11, 2015 at 12:26
  • @oerkelens: Yes, it's not clear what the OP is asking for :) A noun?
    – TimR
    Aug 11, 2015 at 12:32

2 Answers 2


We can say

He was a notorious criminal.


Governor X was a politician of great disrepute in the 1930s.

  • I was also thinking of notorious.
    – jxh
    Aug 11, 2015 at 15:54

Rather too many questions here. Legend or myth, as a kind of account of events, is often opposed to history, which in this context is sometimes modified with sober. As for a person’s being a legend, the opposite would be a nobody or someone whose name is deservedly forgotten; thus, we cannot name an opposite to Odysseus in the sense of one who is as lacking in immortal fame as Odysseus is endowed with it. (In some other senses, we can indeed name opposites to him: his opposite in terms of his fondness for deception, for instance, is Achilles.) One who is known to fame for a bad thing or quality rather than a good one can be said to be a by-word for it (or byword: M-W “someone or something that is closely connected with a particular quality”), as Timon for misanthropy, Thersites for obstreperous rudeness, Helen for calamity. Of course, one can be a by-word for a good thing, too, as Helen for beauty, and—depending on your point of view—Croesus for wealth.

  • And St Francis of Assisi for poverty -- again, depending your point of view.
    – TimR
    Aug 11, 2015 at 16:21
  • @TimRomano: Or, perhaps better, Lazarus for poverty. Aug 11, 2015 at 17:19

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