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I want to describe someone who has a bad reputation and tends to make people talk about him (in a bad way) because of how he behaves, before saying that he's actually passionate and kind. Overall, he simply gets badmouthed a lot because of his strong behaviour.

If possible, I'd like an adjective.

I was thinking of something alone the lines of scandalous, but in a less pejorative way. Would badmouthed be idiomatic?

Context:

This allowed us to meet Jean, a notoriously [adjective] person, who actually turned out to be quite kind and invested.

How would you go about this one?

Thanks in advance!

Edit: I think disreputable fits the description, but it might be too much to describe someone that is in fact a great person, and I wouldn't want my wording to worsen his reputation. In the end, the person I'm describing could be one of the readers of the piece I'm writing.

  • 2
    Personally, I think notorious fits the bill perfectly :) – JonLarby Jun 9 '16 at 12:55
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    Although it doesn’t answer your question, “misunderstood” could work in your particular example sentence: … “This allowed us to meet J[ohn], [a] notoriously misunderstood [person/individual/bad boy (Buddha Theis’ good suggestion)], who actually turned out to be quite kind and invested. ” – Papa Poule Jun 9 '16 at 13:18
  • One of several labels that attract this sort of attention is iconoclast. Use it with care, though. It has a specific meaning and it isn't related to the fact that they get badmouthed. But many are. – Phil Sweet Jun 9 '16 at 16:40
  • I'd just say "Trouble." – SeldomNeedy Jun 9 '16 at 16:50
  • This isn't a very common phrase, but I'd say colloquailly they are a "drama magnet" or a "magnet for drama". While that's not exactly a set phrase, the "_____ magnet" formulation is common. And "drama", used to mean negative rumors and interpersonal conflict, is a term that's been in wide usage in recent years. – recognizer Jun 9 '16 at 22:25
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You might call this person infamous:

well known for some bad quality or deed.

"an infamous war criminal"

synonyms: notorious, disreputable; legendary, fabled, famed

"an infamous train robber"

wicked; abominable.

"the medical council disqualified him for infamous misconduct"

synonyms: abominable, outrageous, shocking, shameful, disgraceful, dishonorable, discreditable, contemptible, unworthy; monstrous, atrocious, nefarious, appalling, dreadful, terrible, heinous, egregious, detestable, despicable, loathsome, hateful, vile, unspeakable, unforgivable, iniquitous, scandalous; informaldirty, filthy, lowdown

"infamous misconduct"

5

Why not disreputable ?

Not respected or trusted by most people; having a bad reputation

  • Thanks for the input. I think disreputable fits the description, but it might be too much to describe someone that is in fact a great person, and I wouldn't want my wording to worsen his reputation. It might be a bit confusing, but do you get me? The person could end up reading the piece I'm writing. – MadWard Jun 9 '16 at 12:48
  • I think it will be hard to dodge the pejorative initially. Given the rest of the context, aren't you explaining that it isn't true anyway? "We heard he was disreputable, but that couldn't have been further from the truth." – Rome_Leader Jun 9 '16 at 12:53
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Notorious might sound good in such context.

Here's what Oxford American Dictionary says for "notorious": famous or well known, typically for some bad quality or deed.

  • I agree with this answer, it's a useful suggestion, but in order to meet the (fairly strict) standards of the site, you need to edit it to include a dictionary definition, as well as a link back to the dictionary you're quoting from. Thanks. – Dan Bron Jun 9 '16 at 13:39
  • I'm new to this site. Thanks for steering me. Here's what Oxford American Dictionary says for "notorious": famous or well known, typically for some bad quality or deed – Oleg M Jun 9 '16 at 13:41
  • Thanks man. Can you edit that information directly into the body of your answer, rather than leaving it as a comment beneath your answer? – Dan Bron Jun 9 '16 at 13:49
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I know you're looking for an adjective, but maybe disparaged or derided would work as transitive verbs. From Merriam-Webster:

disparage: verb, dis·par·age \di-ˈsper-ij, -ˈspa-rij\ : to describe (someone or something) as unimportant, weak, bad, etc.;

transitive verb:

  1. to lower in rank or reputation : degrade
  2. to depreciate by indirect means (as invidious comparison) : speak slightingly about

deride: verb, de·ride \di-ˈrīd, dē-\ : to talk or write about (someone or something) in a very critical or insulting way : to say that (someone or something) is ridiculous or has no value

transitive verb:

  1. to laugh at contemptuously
  2. to subject to usually bitter or contemptuous ridicule
0

Bad boy (or girl) (Wiktionary)

(Noun)

A man whose rebellious nature makes him attractive to women. (slang) A male criminal. (figuratively, slang) An undesirable task. Let's get this bad boy done! (slang) A powerful or impressive product or item.

It's not present here, but in my experience with bad boys they tend to attract gossip, and that's what I think of when I think about all the bod boys I've known over the years. The word means that to me now, and to a lot of other people I know too.

"This allowed us to meet Jean, a notorious bad boy, who actually turned out to be quite kind and invested."

or

"This allowed us to meet Jean, a notoriously bad girl, who actually turned out to be quite kind and invested."

I suppose.

  • No idea what the down vote is for, have an upvote to cancel it. However, your example sentence hinges on notoriously, and that greatly weakens it. – Phil Sweet Jun 9 '16 at 16:35

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