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 tounbeknownst to us rumors were flying

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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 And unbeknownst to Scrooge, Marley is a master forger who has built a vast enterprise of front companies, shell businesses and phony proprietors that would impress even Donald Trump’s accountants. Ron Charles, Washington Post, "Christmas comes early in John Clinch’s ‘Marley,’ a clever riff on ‘A Christmas Carol’," 22 Oct. 2019 But unbeknownst to Choi, the lawsuit contends, Park had nearly bankrupted the company after taking out more than $3 million and investing it in risky stock options. BostonGlobe.com, "You're using a browser set to private or incognito mode.," 6 Oct. 2019 Last year, the company had the idea of starting a marketplace on its own, and unbeknownst to Simon, Rubin had also been considering an outlet marketplace for a couple of years. Phil Wahba, Fortune, "Mall Developer Simon Takes 50% Stake in Rue Gilt And Launches Online Outlet Marketplace," 2 Oct. 2019 Prosecutors say Reed and his co-defendants sold 35 guns to a man who, unbeknownst to them, was an undercover agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Lead defendant in Nevada/Oakland gun trafficking conspiracy, ATF agent robbery, gets federal prison term," 22 Sep. 2019 While Will Smith famously passed on starring in The Matrix, unbeknownst to us, he’s been making his own home movie version all along. Derek Lawrence, EW.com, "Watch The Matrix home movie that Will Smith made with his son," 11 Nov. 2019 Perhaps unbeknownst to Brand, Ryjik was storing screenshots of their communication on his computer. BostonGlobe.com, "train its athletic personnel," 10 Nov. 2019 But unbeknownst to Kelsey Berreth, Frazee for months in 2018 worked to spread lies that Kelsey abused their 1-year-old daughter and was a horrible mother, Viehman said. Elise Schmelzer, The Denver Post, "Kelsey Berreth murder case: Cheryl Berreth, victim’s mother, takes the stand, defense says case has “serious foundational issues”," 1 Nov. 2019 Both got a per diem of $80 — but Wahlberg, unbeknownst to her, received an additional $1.5 million. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Column: Life after ‘MasterChef’ for San Diego home cook Sarah Faherty," 23 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for unbeknownst

Time Traveler

The first known use of unbeknownst was in 1636

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Last Updated

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Unbeknownst.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unbeknown. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unbeknownst

Spanish Central: Translation of unbeknownst

Nglish: Translation of unbeknownst for Spanish Speakers

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