Third Wednesday: Unsuspecting vs. Unexpected

Today’s word keeps showing up in the wrong context more and more often.  I’ve seen this combination of words used in novels, in magazine articles, and in news stories.

“The cops found their best clue in an unsuspecting place.”

The problem here is that a place or a thing cannot suspect or be suspicious of anything or anyone.  But a person can be oblivious to the clues in front of them.  And the cops can expect the clues to show up in a certain manner or place and be surprised when they find a lead elsewhere.


Unsuspecting – adj. – not suspicious, not knowing something is happening or will happen.

Many people think politicians make it a practice to deceive the unsuspecting public about their true agenda while running for office.

Claudia was the typical unsuspecting wife, right up to the moment her husband’s young girlfriend pointed the gun at her.


Unexpected – not foreseen; something surprising; something you anticipated would happen in a different way.

It is not unexpected that politicians will not deliver on the promises they made on the campaign trail.

Claudia’s death was unexpected by everyone except her husband and his young girlfriend.


Here’s another look at Unsuspecting and Unexpected.


The unsuspecting house was dark and spooky.

Harvey was unexpected about the surprise birthday party.


John’s young girlfriend was unsuspecting about his true motive for killing his wife.

The sixty inches of snow in the city was unexpected this early in the season.

Detective Malone expected to wring a confession from the unsuspecting young woman who believed he was flirting with her.


Need a memory trick to distinguish these words?  If you didn’t have a clue that question was coming, you’re unsuspecting.  If you get the answer from a friend, that would be an unexpected bonus.