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

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 Phillips had apparently been hiding there, unbeknownst to anyone gathered for Counsell’s daily pregame media gathering. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Brewers outfielder Brett Phillips surprises manager Craig Counsell, media by hiding in dugout," 2 May 2018 When companies—unbeknownst to city officials—introduced dockless bikes and scooters to streets, local officials have often responded with bans to rein in the activities of users. Megan Barber, Curbed, "The weirdest places we found scooters in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 Mixed up In an experiment at Tufts, white students were prompted to talk about campus diversity with a racially ambiguous student who, unbeknownst to them, was scripted by the psychologists. Kevin Lewis, BostonGlobe.com, "Selling distrust," 11 May 2018 As the temperatures in the California desert climb near 100 degrees, Goldsmith and his parents stick close to the shade of Guy’s Stagecoach Smokehouse, sampling the offerings, waiting — unbeknownst to him — to meet and cook with his idol. Gerrad Hall, EW.com, "Watch Guy Fieri surprise super fan who won Chopped Junior and beat cancer three times," 10 May 2018 Their relationship began back when Ralph Lauren invited them to attend the 2017 Met Gala in New York together—unbeknownst to him, the two had been flirting over text for quite some time before this. Vogue, "Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas Are Married—And the Newlyweds Are the Stars of Vogue’s First Digital Cover," 1 Dec. 2018

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

9 Apr 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

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


an act or instance of returning to life

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