Adjective – Ignominious
Think of how someone’s disgraceful behavior gives that person a bad name. For example, the name “Bill Cosby” was once very good, but now it’s a “bad name,” since he’s in jail for assaulting women.
The word “ignominious” comes from a Latin one meaning “disgrace,” or more literally, “having lost one’s good name.”
Ignominious things are shameful, disgraceful, or dishonorable; they give the person who did them a bad name.
IGG no MIN ee us
Part of speech:
Adjective: “her career came to an ignominious end,” “their defeat was utterly ignominious.”
The adverb is “ignominiously.”
For a noun, you can use “ignominiousness,” or my preference, “ignominy,” pronounced “IG nuh min ee.” (Sometimes you’ll see it shortened to “ignomy,” but I don’t recommend doing that–people are likely to see it as an error.)
How to use it:
“Ignominious” is a mouthful. On the ladder of formality, it’s a few steps above “shameful,” and maybe one step above “reprehensible.” So, reach for it when you need to call extra attention to just how bad someone’s behavior is–at least, in the eyes of whoever’s judging that person.
We often talk about ignominious ends, exits, losses, defeats, and failures; as well as ignominious pasts, histories, track records, and distinctions.
But you can call just about any bad choice, bad habit, or shameful event or series of events ignominious. For example, talk about an ignominious step, meeting, attack, journey, setback, turn of events, etc.
“Nixon was impeached and then resigned in ignominy the following year.”
— Tamer Fakahany, Associated Press, 4 September 2019
“Amazon’s cashier-less grocery shop is going through some teething problems, according to the Wall Street Journal. Specifically, the new shop can’t handle tracking more than about 20 people at the same time, and freaks out ‘if an item has been moved from its specific spot on the shelf’ the paper writes, citing unnamed sources. It’s an ignominious start for what was supposed to be the future of the grocery store.”
— Alex Hern, The Guardian, 29 March 2017