unknown; unperceived; without one's knowledge (usually followed by to).

Also un·be·knownst [uhn-bi-nohnst] /ˌʌn bɪˈnoʊnst/.

Origin of unbeknown

1630–40; un-1 + beknown (late Middle English beknowe, past participle of beknowen); see be-, known
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unbeknown

Historical Examples of unbeknown

  • Where he come from and where he's gone to is unbeknown to me.

    The Poet at the Breakfast Table

    Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

  • I told Grant if he could let Jeff Davis escape all unbeknown to himself, to let him go.

    Abraham Lincoln

    William Eleroy Curtis

  • All unbeknown to himself, she had made him stand for his King.

    The Following of the Star

    Florence L. Barclay

  • That, or a three-pronged fork, said Cole, unbeknown to any but herself.

    The Search Party

    G. A. Birmingham

  • That wonderful man, as is always prowling about, unbeknown to any one.

    Cripps, the Carrier

    R. D. (Richard Doddridge) Blackmore

British Dictionary definitions for unbeknown



(sentence modifier foll by to) without the knowledge (of a person)unbeknown to him she had left the country Also (esp Brit): unbeknownst


(postpositive usually foll by to) rare not known (to)

Word Origin for unbeknown

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

Word Origin and History for unbeknown

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper