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

Example Sentences

the thunderstorm caught us unawares, and we scrambled to get off the ridge as lightning started to flash
Recent Examples on the Web To deter customers from doing research—to reconstruct the gloriously profitable world of information asymmetry—companies need to catch them unawares. Tad Friend, The New Yorker, 1 Aug. 2022 The career of Marco Bellocchio has been extensive, fertile, and constantly capable of taking us unawares. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 15 July 2022 If restaurateurs were caught unawares, so was Grubhub. Tim Carman, Washington Post, 17 May 2022 From my perspective, there’s no excuse for being caught unawares, and clinging to the easier or cheaper option is a far riskier business decision than exploring other avenues now. Sjoerd Fauser, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 Herbert also said he had been caught unawares by the attorney general’s actions. Daedan Olander, The Salt Lake Tribune, 7 Mar. 2022 But it’s here in the good old U.S. of A. that Azerbaijan has had the greatest success covertly influencing policy and policymakers, with both constituents and regulators caught unawares. Casey Michel, The New Republic, 26 Jan. 2022 Diana Pratt-Simar, a historian/docent at Donner Memorial State Park, says snow can catch people unawares. Washington Post, 13 Jan. 2022 At a Republican rally in August, Johnson was caught unawares by Windsor, who quizzed him about the 2020 presidential contest. Daniel Bice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 16 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unawares.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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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