un·​awares ˌən-ə-ˈwerz How to pronounce unawares (audio)
: without design, attention, preparation, or premeditation
: without warning : suddenly, unexpectedly

Examples of unawares in a Sentence

the thunderstorm caught us unawares, and we scrambled to get off the ridge as lightning started to flash
Recent Examples on the Web In the case of Hungary, EU leaders may have been caught unawares by Orban’s assaults on democracy. R. Daniel Kelemen, Foreign Affairs, 25 Aug. 2016 But then, out of nowhere, the chile peppers will catch you unawares and land a solid uppercut to the kisser. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 28 Feb. 2024 Pictorial imagery catches us unawares because, as intellectuals, we are trained to analyze text and to treat drawings or photographs as trifling adjuncts. Stephen Jay Gould, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 But Clark also wants to see lawmakers and political leaders get a head start in talking about Deepfake technologies so that they don’t get caught unawares by a political scandal. IEEE Spectrum, 14 Mar. 2023 After all, one of the worst moves investors can make is letting a recession catch them unawares and bailing on their portfolios in response. Q.ai - Powering A Personal Wealth Movement, Forbes, 11 Jan. 2023 Over the past 30 years, we have been caught unawares by bovine tuberculosis in African lions, canine distemper virus in Siberian seals and tigers, and leprosy in North American armadillos. Stephen Harrison, Discover Magazine, 10 Nov. 2016 The Center for Disease Control does not want you to be caught unawares. Kyle Munkittrick, Discover Magazine, 20 May 2011 Its violent, zero-to-hero power delivery could catch drivers unawares, knocking the car off-balance, then frequently backwards into a hedge. Tim Pitt, Robb Report, 15 Dec. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unawares.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


un- + aware + -s, adverb suffix, from Middle English, from -s, genitive singular ending of nouns — more at -s

First Known Use

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of unawares was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near unawares

Cite this Entry

“Unawares.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unawares. Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition


un·​awares ˌən-ə-ˈwa(ə)rz How to pronounce unawares (audio)
: without knowing : unintentionally
: without warning : by surprise
taken unawares

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