Word of the Day : December 8, 2013

unbeknownst

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adjective un-bih-NOHNST

Definition

: happening or existing without the knowledge of someone specified

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

Unbeknownst to Caroline, we all chipped in to have a large bouquet of flowers delivered to her office for her birthday.

"Although his wife was well aware of their excessive spending habits, Travis was the one who paid the bills-and he often used credit cards to cover them unbeknownst to Vonnie." - From an article by Penny Wrenn on Forbes.com, October 9, 2013



Test Your Memory

What word begins with "e" and completes this sentence from a former Word of the Day piece: "The ¬__________ of the crimes perpetrated by the dictatorial regime has only just begun to receive the international attention it deserves"? The answer is …


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