What does famous mean in Thai? Posted by palmisano on Mar 27, 2011 in Beginner, Culture
In English, the words ‘famous’ and ‘popular’ are similar, yet still have different meanings.
‘Popular’, according to a dictionary says, “regarded with favor, approval, or affection by people in general.” For the purposes of this article I want you to assume it means “well known and liked by a large number of people”.
‘Famous’, according to a dictionary says, “having a widespread reputation, usually of a favorable nature; renowned”. For the purposes of this article I want you to assume the type of famous typical of a movie star.
However in Thai there is no distinction between these two types. You’d use the same ‘famous’ to describe the kid in your class who has a lot of friends that you’d use to describe Lady Gaga or Saddam Hussein.
I’ll go over the various ways to say famous/popular below. Keep in mind that they all generally mean the same thing, and so can be interpreted as either ‘famous’ or ‘popular’.
ขึ้นชื่อ, ได้ชื่อ – kuen3 cheua3, dai3 cheua3 – To become famous, to ‘get a name’
ดัง – dang1 – famous (this word also means ‘loud’)
ชื่อดัง – cheua3 dang1 – famous (also means ‘loud name’)
มีชื่อเสียง – mee1 cheua3 siang5 – is famous (also means to ‘have a name’)
เขาไม่ดัง – kao5 mai3 dang1 – He isn’t famous.
เขาไม่ดังมาก – kao5 mai3 dang1 maak3 – He isn’t very famous.
So what if you just want to say ‘popular’? There is no single word you can use, so you’ll have to actually spell it out in full . . .
เขามีเพื่อนเยอะ – kao5 mee1 puean3 yuh4 – He has a lot of friends.
เขารู้จักคนเยอะ – kao5 ruu4 jak2 kon1 yuh4 – He knows a lot of people.
As a side note, I looked long and hard for a good practice video without much luck. This following video has a lady describing her thoughts on why people have dreams about famous people. Just listen to see how many times you can pick up the word เชื่อเสียง.
ทำไมชอบฝันถึงคนที่มีชื่อเสียง? – Why do [we] like to dream about famous people?