1540s, "publicly known and spoken of," from Medieval Latin notorius "well-known, commonly known," from Latin notus "known," past participle of noscere "come to know," from PIE root *gno- "to know." Middle English had notoire (mid-14c. in Anglo-French), from Old French, "well-known." Negative connotation, now predominant, "noted for some bad practice or quality, notable in a bad sense, widely but discreditably known" arose 17c. from frequent association with derogatory nouns. Related: Notoriously.