1 : happening or existing without the knowledge of someone specified — usually used with to
2 : not known or not well-known : unknown
Did You Know?
Unbeknownst is an irregular variant of the older unbeknown, which derives from beknown, an obsolete synonym of known. But for a word with a straightforward history, unbeknownst and the now less common unbeknown have caused quite a stir among usage commentators. In spite of widespread use (including appearances in the writings of Charles Dickens, A. E. Housman, and E. B. White), the grammarian H. W. Fowler in 1926 categorized the two words as "out of use except in dialect or uneducated speech." The following year, G. P. Krapp called them "humorous, colloquial, and dialectal." Our evidence, however, shows that both words are standard even in formal prose.
"… Travis was the one who paid the bills—and he often used credit cards to cover them, unbeknownst to Vonnie." — Penny Wrenn, Forbes.com, 9 Oct. 2013
"… Senate Bill 15, approved unanimously by that House committee Thursday, hopes to help homeowners who find themselves the victim of 'squatting'—people who illegally move into a home, often unbeknownst to the homeowner." — Marianne Goodland, The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colorado), 12 Apr. 2018
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Test Your Vocabulary
Fill in the blanks to complete an adjective that means "not made known" or "not named or identified": _ n _ _ s _ l _ _ e _.VIEW THE ANSWER
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