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[uhn-bi-nohn] /ˌʌn bɪˈnoʊn/
unknown; unperceived; without one's knowledge (usually followed by to).
Also, unbeknownst
[uhn-bi-nohnst] /ˌʌn bɪˈnoʊnst/ (Show IPA)
Origin of unbeknown
late Middle English
1630-40; un-1 + beknown (late Middle English beknowe, past participle of beknowen); see be-, known Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for unbeknownst
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Well, white folks may poke their fun at him unbeknownst, but he's got manners suitable to make him popular with me.

    J. Poindexter, Colored Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb
  • Some of them carriers, I expect, puttin' their horses in unbeknownst to you.

    An Outback Marriage Andrew Barton Paterson
  • If ye have anny other cognomen, it's somethin' ye stole from some Christian all unbeknownst to him.

    Beth Norvell Randall Parrish
  • unbeknownst to yourself, dear, you bore him what he wanted, and what I wanted.

    The Soul of Susan Yellam Horace Annesley Vachell
  • I got acquainted with the porter, and he blacked my boots in the night unbeknownst to me, while I was engaged in slumber.

    Remarks Bill Nye
British Dictionary definitions for unbeknownst


(sentence modifier) foll by to. without the knowledge (of a person): unbeknown to him she had left the country Also (esp Brit) unbeknownst
(rare) (postpositive) usually foll by to. not known (to)
Word Origin
C17: from the archaic beknown known; see be-, know
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unbeknownst

1833, vulgar formation from unbeknown (1630s). No clear reason for the -st, but since 19c. this has become the dominant form.



1630s, from un- (1) "not" + beknown (see beknow).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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