Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Unbeknown.
  • adv. Without the knowledge of a specified party. Used with to: Our cousin had been ill for years, unbeknownst to the family.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adv. without the knowledge of

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Same as unbeknown.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. (usually used with `to') occurring or existing without the knowledge of
  • adv. without someone's knowledge

Etymologies

unbeknown + -st (as in amongst).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
C. 1636: unusual form of un- +‎ beknown (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • McCain unbeknownst to Warner has indeed picked up a hot charcoal ember with his tongs, and purple with rage waits for Warner to turn back.

    Archive 2008-04-01

  • With no bomb-shell of an October surprise namely a tape coming from Osama bin Laden as was done in the 2004 presidential campaign; a self-inflicted November surprise came about today when Sarah Palin took an active part in a prank phone call unbeknownst to her.

    Sarah Palin and the prank call: The GOP's self-inflicted November surprise

  • P.S. When I hear the word unbeknownst, all I think about is Jeff Conway and Daniel Baldwin's confrontation where Daniel said "unbeknownst to Jeff ...." and Jeff just kept screaming "no I fucking did not, take it back".

    radioactive girl

  • I know a Japanese woman whose name unbeknownst to her happened to be the same as that of a wanted member of the Japanese "Red Army".

    Can you spot the errors in this picture?

  • How could Paulsons opinions and predilections about subprime RMBS have been "unbeknownst" to ACA at the time?

    SEC vs. Goldman: A Case Of Amnesia?

  • I hate doing anything of the kind "unbeknownst" to people, so there is the exact history of my proceedings.

    The Life and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley

  • Fitzgerald, Squire Terence Malone, and the other squires of the neighborhood had many a good smoke there, and many a hearty laugh, as they said, quite "unbeknownst" to the English lady and her grand friends.

    Light O' the Morning

  • We popped on each seal-island "unbeknownst," and what we discovered we held our jaws on.

    Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 101, October 31, 1891

  • And the Fed isn't as "unbeknownst" as you may think .... in my opinion.

    American Zombie

  • 'unbeknownst' to yourself you'll awake some morning with it on your lips.

    The Harvester

Wordnik is becoming a not-for-profit! Read our announcement here.

Comments

Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • "Stop for a minute and consider what Bush actually told us. It's a staggering thought. Who even knows what it might mean? In the United States, for example, the unemployment rate in the decade of the Great Depression never fell below 14%. In cities like Chicago and Detroit in the early 1930s, it approached 50%. So, worse than that? And yet in the privacy of the Oval Office, that was evidently a majority view, unbeknownst to the rest of us."
    - Tom Engelhardt, 'The Day the Earth Still Stood:
    What Will Obama Inherit?', tomdispatch.com, 20 January 2009.

    January 21, 2009