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

Pozorski was worried about bothering the author — who, unbeknownst to Pozorski had retired from writing a few months earlier. Matthew Ormseth, courant.com, "Philip Roth, Novelist and Warren Resident, Remembered By Those Who Knew Him," 24 May 2018 Kovach was reportedly trying to find his daughter, who also was in the backseat of Coleman’s car, unbeknownst to Kovach. Anne Branigin, The Root, "White Ohio Cop Fired for Detaining Daughter’s Black Boyfriend for No Reason: ‘We’ll Make Shit Up as We Go’," 22 June 2018 The lawsuit against Davidson and Cohen also claims that Trump was aware the two attorneys were communicating and coordinating for his benefit — unbeknownst to Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford. NBC News, "Stormy Daniels suit: My old lawyer was a 'puppet' for Trump, Cohen," 6 June 2018 But unbeknownst to you, the drug actually cost only $7, and the pharmacy benefits manager claws back the extra $3. Sydney Lupkin, latimes.com, "Patients overpay for prescriptions 23% of the time, USC analysis shows," 14 Mar. 2018 The Rangers were, unbeknownst to most, in massive financial trouble, and the pre-draft deal Nolan Ryan cut with Purke for $6 million was not approved by then-commissioner Bud Selig. Jeff Wilson, star-telegram, "The hits and misses of Rangers drafts during Daniels era," 3 June 2018 This coffee has an acid taste John Lennon and George Harrison's first experience with LSD was in April 1965, when Harrison's dentist slipped it into their after-dinner coffee, unbeknownst to them. John Harrington And Charles Stockdale, USA TODAY, "50 fascinating facts you may not know about The Beatles," 10 July 2018 But unbeknownst to you, the drug actually cost only $7, and the PBM claws back the extra $3. Sydney Lupkin, Washington Post, "Paying Cash For Prescriptions Could Save You Money 23% Of Time, Analysis Shows," 13 Mar. 2018 Upon their return back to the city, unbeknownst to Mia, David had told all of their friends to meet them for celebratory drinks; so, the festivities continued. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "This Wedding in the Berkshires Turned Into an Exuberant Lawn Party," 9 Jan. 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

21 May 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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unbeknownst

Spanish Central: Translation of unbeknownst

Nglish: Translation of unbeknownst for Spanish Speakers

Comments on unbeknownst

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to take the place or position of

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