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I'm looking for a word to describe someone who is famous to a small group of people.

For example I play a competitive card game and there are several people who are famous within the gaming community, but outside of that community they are just your average people. Most people wouldn't recognize them as celebrities.

  • In my experience, people tend to use infamous with that sense (cf. The Infamous Swoosh) even though this does not match the dictionary definition. – user134593 May 28 '18 at 0:29

15 Answers 15

38

Cult Hero - a writer, musician, artist, or other public figure who is greatly admired by a relatively small audience or is influential despite limited commercial success. OED

28

You could use the idiom "a big fish in a small pond" to describe the person.

a big fish in a small pond: one of the most important people in a small group or organization, who would have much less power and importance if they were part of a larger group or organization (Free Dictionary).

enter image description here http://www.azquotes.com/quote/21985

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    If it weren't for the OP asking specifically for a single word, this is what I would have voted for. – hatchet - Reinstate Monica Jul 18 '17 at 19:40
  • @hatchet -- Granted, but currently all the other options are multi-word answers, too, and perhaps there isn't a good single word option? – thomj1332 Jul 18 '17 at 19:46
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    This has a slight negative bent that I don't believe was intended--it usually implies that the big fish is deliberately staying in the small pond in order to enjoy his prominence. – Bill K Jul 18 '17 at 23:49
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    Since the OP has accepted an answer that isn't a single word, I suppose that wasn't an important criterion, so here's my upvote after all. – hatchet - Reinstate Monica Jul 19 '17 at 15:48
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    I agree with @Bill K. This idiom implies the subject could escape to a larger enclosure at their will, which is not the case for the situation OP describes. – ESR Jul 21 '17 at 2:25
22

A word of arguable authority (apparently absent from major dictionaries, although used by mainstream publications), is demicelebrity.

demicelebrity

  1. uncountable Minor fame
  2. countable A minor celebrity; a person of restricted fame

Example of use from Newsweek:

Is the life of a demicelebrity like Schwartz worth reading about? Absolutely.

Example of use from Boston Magazine:

What does it mean for such a demi-celebrity to tell a reporter that their very silly project—one completely unrelated to the thing for which he is famous...

Use in the book The Star of Istanbul:

And so a famous mother could be helpful, given Selene's apparent obliviousness to my own wide demicelebrity among Chicago cabdrivers and shoe shine boys and shop owners...all of whom knew my name pretty well.

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    Surely a demicelebrity would be, by analogy with a demigod, the child of a celebrity and a normal person. – Max Williams Jul 19 '17 at 14:54
  • "micro-celebrity" would be a more appropriate term, and more popular (at least, in my experience). – Cody Gray Jul 21 '17 at 7:15
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You could say these people have a niche following:

denoting or relating to products, services, or interests that appeal to a small, specialized section of the population.

"Person XYZ has a niche following in the gaming community."

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    Haven't heard it used before, but I imagine niche celebrity would be well understood. – BradC Jul 20 '17 at 22:04
  • @BradC Yeah, that sounds fine to me. – Kevin Workman Jul 20 '17 at 22:06
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    I think this gets closer to the desired meaning than many other answers. In particular, a cult is usually not restricted to a small group of people. With a niche though, the person's followers may be devoted and numerous within their peer group, but by definition only there. Examples include fringe areas in all cultural domains (music, fine or not-so-fine arts, film, manga, fashion, food, even porn or zen gardening). – Peter - Reinstate Monica Jul 21 '17 at 15:24
12

Try this concatenated phrase:

"micro-notoriety"

Usage: "... Within the team, Carter has achieved a certain level of micro-notoriety...".

Source: Used in Guide to the Cinema of Stephen King, by Caputo.

  • I was going to give the "Big Fish, Small Pond" answer. (Thomj1332 beat me to it), but I found this to be an innovative solution. +1 – TecBrat Jul 18 '17 at 18:54
  • I hadn't heard this term before, but it does seem to be in circulation. This answer would help more future visitors if you'd edit it to provide some documentation showing it's used in the wild. – MetaEd Jul 18 '17 at 19:14
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    I like micro-notoriety. It has a nerdy panache to it. – M.Mat Jul 18 '17 at 22:34
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    @M.Mat I like nerdy panache. It has a je ne sais quoi to it. – ab2 ReinstateMonicaNow Jul 19 '17 at 20:25
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You can get a very specific version of this by prepending the specific interest or locality in which the individual is famous.

For localities:

  • London-famous
  • Rochdale-famous
  • Valley-famous

For interest groups:

  • Youtube-famous
  • Ruby-famous
  • Yo-yo-famous

These aren't standard English words, or even single words, really, but they will largely be understood as meaning 'famous' but for that specific niche.

6

Local Hero - you can also enjoy a nice film with the same name.

4

Semi-renowned?

In Halifax, Nova Scotia, they say someone is "Halifamous" :)

Source for Halifamous: The Coast, Halifax's website

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    Is this actually correct throughout the whole city? Is it documented anywhere? – marcellothearcane Jul 19 '17 at 9:19
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I lean toward the use of "royalty", prefacing it with the specific community in mind.

1.3 "The most successful, famous, or highly regarded members of a particular group." (oxforddictionaries.com)

Actually, most of the other answers will also work in the same fashion, but I think this feels most natural.

  • World Poker royalty
  • Xtreme Sports royalty
  • Beverly Hills-adjacent, above-Sunset, 2nd generation Persian-Jewish royalty
  • Food Network royalty
  • Washington High, Class of '73 royalty

This fits neatly into the "big fish in a small/specific pond" idea

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"Noteworthy" or "Of note" would suffice. While not strictly required a context is usually provided as "he is a bridge player of note" or "his writings on bridge are noteworthy".

"Notorious" is of the same derivation but has incurred negative connotations.

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esoteric:

intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a specialized knowledge or interest.

oxford dictionaries online

  • Welcome to ELU. Please cite your sources; we don't like plagiarism here. – AndyT Jul 20 '17 at 10:48
  • Can you give an example of this being used to describe a person rather than knowledge, a debate, etc? – Peter Taylor Jul 20 '17 at 14:16
-1

relatively famous is the term that popped into my mind.

But it might be relatively applicable.

-1

Recently I was telling someone about meeting a person who a lot of people with my hobby watch on YouTube but who outsiders wouldn't know. I didn't know how else to explain it, so I called him "internet famous."

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Legend totally works for somebody who's accomplished impressive feats (like winning many of these card game tournaments).

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I am afraid it is not an established expression but I still would propose "pocket universe deity" as it is still reasonably succinct and descriptive.

The word "demigod" is also sometimes employed with similar meaning, but even when used in the non-literal sense it often refers rather to a limit in rank rather than scope.

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    Never heard of 'pocket universe deity' - where does it come from? Also, they are borderline not really answering the question, you may want to explain why 'famous' means 'worshiped' (if it does) – marcellothearcane Jul 19 '17 at 13:58

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