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[uhn-wit-ing] /ʌnˈwɪt ɪŋ/
inadvertent; unintentional; accidental:
His insult, though unwitting, pained her.
not knowing; unaware; ignorant; oblivious; unconscious:
an unwitting person.
Origin of unwitting
before 900; Middle English; Old English unwittende; see un-1, wit2, -ing2
Related forms
unwittingly, adverb
unwittingness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for unwittingly
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • You have unwittingly revealed—oh, for the twentieth time, though I could not believe it, would not believe it!

    The American Claimant Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • He in turn told all to Dr. Bancroft, and so unwittingly to the English government.

    Benjamin Franklin John Torrey Morse, Jr.
  • No private letters for Gibraltar were permitted in the mail-bags, lest they should unwittingly betray counsel.

    The Life of Nelson, Vol. II. (of 2) A. T. (Alfred Thayer) Mahan
  • Cross never knew of the hopes and joys he had unwittingly crushed.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • But, unwittingly, they planted the germ of schism, which at the appointed time produced its terrible fruit.

British Dictionary definitions for unwittingly


adjective (usually prenominal)
not knowing or conscious
not intentional; inadvertent
Derived Forms
unwittingly, adverb
unwittingness, noun
Word Origin
Old English unwitende, from un-1 + witting, present participle of witan to know; related to Old High German wizzan to know, Old Norse vita
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 unwittingly



Old English unwitende, from un- (1) "not" + witting. Cf. Old High German unwizzanti, German unwissend, Old Norse uvitandi, Gothic unwitands. Rare after c.1600; revived c.1800.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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