What is difference between "be known as" and "be known to"?

I think the meanings are same.

is there any difference in usage or syntax..?

  • 1
    Don't forget be known for... They can all be quite similar. She is known as an early riser. She is known to rise early. She is known for her early rising. (FYI: Early Rising = waking early to start to the day.)
    – EllieK
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 20:49

4 Answers 4


You can "be known as" a name or something else (usually something you'd be famous for):

He was known as Tom
She was known as an actress

You can "be known to" others:

I am known to Tom.

This means, simply, that Tom knows who I am.

However, "be known to" is used more often when a person is not the subject:

The drug is known to cause seizures.

This means that people know that the drug causes seizures.


Well, the main difference is

According to Cambridge Dictionary

be known as sth

If someone or something is known as a particular name, that person or thing is called by that name:

And this is Terry, otherwise known as "Muscleman".

be known to be/do sth

If something or someone is known to be or do something, people know that it is true or happens, or that someone is or does something:

A daily intake of 20 mg of vitamin C is known to be sufficient in most cases to ward off scurvy.

Basically, the first is used when you have an alias or a knickname; the second is used when people know you for something that you do.

Other examples for the second meaning taken from MacMillan

She is known to be interested in pop music.

They are known to have spoken to the President about it.

As I have stated below in comments, I've not found references for "be known to [verb]" in general, but seeing the example provided by @joiedevivre, I think that we can say that "be known to [verb]" is practically

If something or someone is known to [verb] (something, if verb is transitive), people know that it is true or happens, or that someone [verb] something:

The drug is known to cause seizures.

The drug is known to cause [verb] seizures [something]

People know that drugs cause seizures. "Drugs cause seizures" is a true premise known by people.

  • "Be known as" and "be known to be" are nearly synonymous (with different grammatical requirements). "Be known to" means something else entirely. Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 7:28
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    @joiedevivre You may be right. I've not found information about "be known to" by itself.
    – RubioRic
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 7:32
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    +1 Good edit. I do think you're still missing the "known to" others example, though. And also that you can be "known to be" something with the usage "known as." For example, he was known as a mass murderer. But your answer is better than mine! Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 7:56
  • @joiedevivre Thanks! The problem here is that I'm not English native speaker. I have to back up my statements with references because I didn't know first hand how you use your language. You are right about "known as a mass murderer" but the best dictionary I have found don't mention that usage.
    – RubioRic
    Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 8:02
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    Well, I admire you for making answers on this site, and I think there's often a lot of value in having non-native speakers answer, too, since I think sometimes you understand the difficulties in learning the language better. Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 8:10

Generally speaking, when we say be known as, we refer to someone's identity. This could be their name, or some defining characteristic about them:

His name is Robert, but he is known as Bobby.

Edmund Hillary was known as an intrepid explorer and a concerned philanthropist.

However, when we use be known to, we are generally talking about someone's behavior. This phrase is often followed by some action:

He was known to eat the same restaurant every Thursday.

She was known to cancel interviews at the last minute.

While I would not call them "interchangeable," there can be a lot of overlap between the two. With just minor adjustments in the wording, we can often express very similar sentiments using either expression:

Pablo Picasso was known as a painting pioneer.

Pablo Picasso was known to paint in novel ways.

Also, these expressions are flexible, and I don't claim my definitions here are the only ways these phrases can be used. For example, be known to can also be used to mean that someone was aware of something, as in:

The suspect's violent past was known to police.


Put simply:

To "be known as" refers to someone's general reputation, as in 'he came to be known as an angry man'.

To "Be known to" refers to a personal reputation (used when a relationship that has become more intimate), as in 'she came to be known to me a loving woman'.

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    She came to be known to me a loving woman doesn't make sense. That sentence requires both to and as. It should be known to me as a loving woman. Commented Jun 7, 2018 at 17:22

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