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 formsun·wit·ting·ly, adverbun·wit·ting·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for unwittingly

accidentally, unintentionally, unconsciously, unawarely

Examples from the Web for unwittingly

Contemporary Examples of unwittingly

Historical Examples of unwittingly

  • It was this battle the progress of which I unwittingly watched.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • Cross never knew of the hopes and joys he had unwittingly crushed.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • No; but I would not for the world that you should unwittingly run any risks in this place.

    Roden's Corner

    Henry Seton Merriman

  • Could they have unwittingly wandered into a deserted pest-ship?

  • I remember one such elderly lady and the shock I unwittingly gave her.

    The Harbor

    Ernest Poole

British Dictionary definitions for unwittingly


adjective (usually prenominal)

not knowing or conscious
not intentional; inadvertent
Derived Formsunwittingly, adverbunwittingness, noun

Word Origin for unwitting

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

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