un·​be·​knownst | \ ˌən-bi-ˈnōn(t)st How to pronounce unbeknownst (audio) \
variants: or less commonly unbeknown \ ˌən-​bi-​ˈnōn How to pronounce unbeknown (audio) \

Definition of unbeknownst

1 : happening or existing without the knowledge of someone specified usually used with to unbeknownst to us rumors were flying
2 : unknown

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Synonyms for unbeknownst



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Did You Know?

Unbeknownst derives from beknown, an obsolete synonym of known. But for a word with a straightforward history, unbeknownst and its older and less common variant unbeknown have created quite a flap among usage commentators. Despite widespread use (including appearances in the writings of Charles Dickens, A.E. Housman, and E.B. White), the two words have been called everything from "obsolete" to "vulgar." Our evidence, however, shows that both can be considered standard.

Examples of unbeknownst in a Sentence

unbeknownst to me, my mother was planning a party

Recent Examples on the Web

But unbeknownst to the dogs and their owners, the relentless sun had also made the pond a bathtub of toxins. Katie Mettler, chicagotribune.com, "Dogs’ owners warn of deadly toxic algae," 20 Aug. 2019 And all of the above is unbeknownst to Grace, who, in her speech at the wedding feast, delivers a panegyric to her parents for their total fabulosity, and whose life is about to be upended. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "“After the Wedding” Flouts Its Own Rules," 9 Aug. 2019 That phone call was recorded by the FBI, unbeknownst to Koslow. Susannah Bryan, sun-sentinel.com, "Prosecutors drop 2 charges against former Hallandale Beach Mayor Joy Cooper," 1 Aug. 2019 However, unbeknownst to Dorit, the new owner also decided to give Lucy away and the pup ended up at a shelter. Kate Hogan, PEOPLE.com, "All of the Most Epic Real Housewives Brawls, Ever," 26 July 2019 Pixar producers can audition actors, unbeknownst to the actors themselves. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "'Toy Story 4': Your burning Forky questions, existential and otherwise, answered," 22 June 2019 Any cause of a delay is unbeknownst to us and could possibly be attributed to a transition in leadership. Paul Berger, WSJ, "MTA Still Paying for Empty Headquarters After Squabble Between City and State," 23 Aug. 2018 Instead, officials told WLBT-TV that Kostial went home around midnight before apparently leaving the house again, unbeknownst to her roommates. Fox News, "Ole Miss student charged in Ally Kostial's death was tracked to gas station, father says 'my son is innocent'," 24 July 2019 The conflict that Genovés had been agitating for during the original experiment managed to slip by, unbeknownst to him, then and now. Nathan Taylor Pemberton, The New Yorker, "“The Raft” Chronicles an Extreme Experiment with Human Nature," 18 July 2019

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

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First Known Use of unbeknownst

1636, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for unbeknownst

un- entry 1 + obsolete English beknown known; unbeknownst, irregular from unbeknown

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Statistics for unbeknownst

Last Updated

24 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for unbeknownst

The first known use of unbeknownst was in 1636

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More Definitions for unbeknownst


un·​be·​knownst | \ ˌən-bi-ˈnōnst How to pronounce unbeknownst (audio) \
variants: also unbeknown \ -​ˈnōn \

Kids Definition of unbeknownst

: happening without someone's knowledge : unknown Unbeknownst to him, we were planning a surprise party.

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More from Merriam-Webster on unbeknownst

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Spanish Central: Translation of unbeknownst

Nglish: Translation of unbeknownst for Spanish Speakers

Comments on unbeknownst

What made you want to look up unbeknownst? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a topic to which one constantly reverts

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