If 'exemplary' describes behaviour that is a good example of what to do, is there an adjective that describes behaviour that is a good example of what not to do?


He was famous for his exemplary behaviour.

He was infamous for his [ ... ] behaviour.

The comedian was outrageous. His performances were exemplary.

The comedian was boring. His performances were [ ... ].

My first guesses would be inexemplary and nonexemplary but I can't find a reference for either of these.

  • Along the lines of your inexemplary and nonexemplary, this book uses counter-exemplary four times in the way you seem to mean, but I'm not familiar enough with the word to be sure that it doesn't just mean "a different/contradicting example" but not necessarily "a bad/not to be followed example."
    – Papa Poule
    Jan 28, 2017 at 18:17
  • so, you want somthing that means a bad example only? not famous for bad like 'notorious': famous or well known, typically for some bad quality or deed.
    – Tom22
    Jan 28, 2017 at 23:46
  • 'Scandalous' is a partial fit, but you seem to want a word antonymous to widely differing referents. Jan 29, 2017 at 1:10
  • The comedian demonstrated what not to do. The comedian demonstrated how not to keep an audience engaged. You can also talk about learning by counter-example. Jan 29, 2017 at 3:20
  • 1
    @EdwinAshworth "a word antonymous to widely differing referents" Agreed. Counter-exemplary is starting to look like the best fit here despite its principal definition in formal logic. Jan 29, 2017 at 11:13

3 Answers 3


Consider reprehensible

Defined by dictionary.com as:

deserving of reproof, rebuke, or censure; blameworthy.

This works for the opposite of exemplary and your first example. It doesn’t go with your boring example though.

  • 1
    And many of the synonyms fit here. :)
    – NVZ
    Jan 28, 2017 at 17:52
  • 1
    @NVZ - Yes, deplorable, disgraceful, discreditable, despicable, shameful, dishonorable, objectionable, opprobrious, repugnant, inexcusable, unforgivable, indefensible, unjustifiable...
    – Jim
    Jan 28, 2017 at 18:14

Perhaps egregious:

M-W: egregious

conspicuous, especially : conspicuously bad : flagrant


I wondered if "anti-example" had ever been used: this would match your required definition - counter-example is a different concept (an example of an exception, for instance). In fact, I have found second-hand references only, but this seems the best bet. I have also found a reference to this in this very site:

Word for "example of what not to do"

I agree with the conclusion in the other thread.

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