Unwitting vs unwilling

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Unwitting and unwilling are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and are often confused. We will examine the differing definitions of unwitting and unwilling, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Unwitting describes an action that is done unintentionally, something done inadvertently. Unwitting also describes someone who is unaware of all the facts of a situation, someone who is not fully informed. The word unwitting is derived from the Old English word unwitende which means not realizing. The adverb form is unwittingly.

Unwilling describes someone who does not want to do something, someone who is unprepared to do something or reluctant to do something. The word unwilling is derived from the Old English word unwillende, meaning not willing. The adverb form is unwillingly.


Over the last few days, visitors to thousands of websites have unwittingly earned criminals money, by running software that generates virtual currency just quietly. (The New Zealand Herald)

Yet the combination of tactics revealed in the indictment, including the use of shell corporations and stolen IDs, deployment of virtual private networks to avoid online detection, and payments to unwitting Americans, suggests even a company as powerful as Facebook could struggle to stop such activities by itself as they happen. (Reuters)

No collusion, no effect on the election, and the only “real U.S. persons” the no-goodniks (to use Boris’ word) interacted with were “unwitting.” (The Boston Herald)

However, the board of directors of ICB is unwilling to buy shares of the Farmers Bank, owned by former minister MK Alamgir, as the directors think that it will be risky to pour funds into a troubled bank. (The Dhaka Tribune)

Tottenham Hotspur are unwilling to agree to Toby Alderweireld’s wage demands and have reached an impasse in negotiations with the Belgium international, whose situation is being closely observed by Manchester United. (The International Business Times)