I'm wondering if there is a word for something that is both famous and infamous, depending on context.

An example, hopefully appropriate, is the Australian food Vegemite...

In Australia, everyone knows what Vegemite is, almost everyone has tasted it, and the majority of people eat it regularly. It's very famous within Australia.

By contrast, outside of Australia (particularly in the USA?), Vegemite has somewhat the opposite effect - it is somewhat well known as an Australian food, but almost no-one would eat it or look upon it favorably as they don't eat it as Australians eat it, and thus it tastes absolutely horrible. It's certainly well known enough to feature on TV shows like The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, where even after being shown how to eat it correctly, Jimmy still didn't like it.

I would therefore loosely classify Vegemite as being both famous (to Australians) and infamous (to other countries). Is there a word for such an object?

  • 4
    Well-known is more neutral. Webster's New World College Dictionary has this definition: "widely or generally known; famous or notorious" *
    – ermanen
    Jun 6, 2018 at 4:03
  • I'm looking for something very similar, though dealing with a social entity (but a broad term could work for both). Something like "famous, respected for its influence, yet at times controversial;" or "steeped in history, variously honored and despised". I was about to post my own question then noticed this one. My example sentence is: "In the time scale and scope of modern computing, Microsoft has a long and {insert word here} history."
    – Brian Lacy
    Aug 4, 2018 at 17:02

1 Answer 1


In New Zealand, we refer to things like this as "World famous in New Zealand". You could say;- "World famous in Australia".
It is a tongue in cheek saying that aptly describes what you're looking for. "World famous in Canada" has also been used.
"It is used to describe items that though famous within New Zealand are unknown in the rest of the world, whereas similar items and people in larger countries would have a far higher media profile and would therefore be famous worldwide."

  • I like this, and have seen it applied in a similar way, but I'm not quite sure it fits. The main problem with this answer being that this assumes the rest of the world probably doesn't know about it, whereas I was looking for something the world does know, albeit in a negative context. Jun 7, 2018 at 2:02
  • Aaah. You mean like the Kardashians! I'll put my thinking cap back on. Jun 7, 2018 at 3:19

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