Definition of unknown in English:



  • 1Not known or familiar.

    ‘exploration into unknown territory’
    ‘his whereabouts are unknown to his family’
    • ‘Freedom and adventure are inviting you into unknown territory and there is nothing to hold you back at this point.’
    • ‘For all young people growth is a hard journey out of the familiar past into an unknown future, and there are times when everyone feels daunted by the precarious uncertainty of the path.’
    • ‘As Shawn and I were continuing our way to unknown territory, I spotted a familiar figure leaving some disco with a few other people.’
    • ‘In each of several trials, he found an unknown toy among familiar toys and brought it back with good consistency.’
    • ‘Seven chapters tell stories that are mostly based on previously unknown archival sources.’
    • ‘We fly and survey the familiar and yet unknown path below us and then we land and rest our eyes and minds and sun-seared souls.’
    • ‘Buddhism, therefore, remained virtually unknown to the classical world.’
    • ‘Remarkably, this bulbous plant is relatively unknown.’
    • ‘Genetic epidemiology may identify hitherto unknown molecular mechanisms and improve understanding of critical events in the evolution of disease.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to man, nobody did anything until 10.’
    • ‘She waved me off as I set off into the unknown territory of Park Mountain.’
    • ‘The Mutiny will be a largely unknown quantity.’
    • ‘We propose that the cause may be some diffusible element of yet unknown origin.’
    • ‘For some hitherto unknown reason, Emilia was not best pleased.’
    • ‘Finally, 7 of 15 interactors with a hitherto unknown function were shown to interfere with apoptosis.’
    • ‘Once that decision is made, a couple enters an unknown territory, where a new future must be mapped out.’
    • ‘But behind these familiar figures is an unknown Ganesha, whose origins lie deep in the subcontinent's prehistory.’
    • ‘She stood just inside the gate and clutched her small bundle of possessions, her one familiar token in an unknown world.’
    • ‘This time out, the author returns to both familiar and unknown ground to collect new stories, strange encounters and first hand accounts.’
    • ‘Thus there has emerged a previously unknown source of initiative.’
    undisclosed, unrevealed, undivulged, untold, unspecified, secret, mysterious, dark, hidden, concealed
    unexplored, uncharted, unmapped, untravelled, undiscovered, virgin
    unidentified, unnamed, nameless, anonymous, undesignated, incognito, mysterious
    unfamiliar, unheard of, unprecedented, new, novel, strange, exotic
    obscure, unheard of, little known, unsung, minor, insignificant, unimportant, undistinguished, unrenowned, inconsequential, lowly, unhonoured, forgotten
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of a performer or artist) not well known or famous.
      ‘unknown artists of the avant-garde’
      • ‘If it's an unknown artist, they say ‘I'm doing her a favor by promoting her work.’’
      • ‘So whether the production is large-scale or small, performed in London or Chichester, with famous or unknown actors is irrelevant to its success.’
      • ‘The collection includes the famous as well as the not so famous and unknown artists too.’
      • ‘Except, in 1983, number six and number sixteen were great achievements for an unknown artist, surely?’
      • ‘So inspired was I with David's recommendations that I ventured into a trendy record store to buy a CD with, what was to me, an obscure title sung by an unknown artist.’
      • ‘It's a solid middle-of-the-road release that has some good performances from unknown actors.’
      • ‘As evidence he produces two Victorian illustrations, one made by an unknown artist probably in the 1860s, and another which appeared in a publication in 1896.’
      • ‘According to some, the depiction of Lord Shiva, by an unknown artist, was about 200 years old.’
      • ‘They are usually painted by nonacademic artists and unknown painters.’
      • ‘As is typically the case, Loach coaxes effective performance out of unknown actors.’
      • ‘Much of that cash goes to newbie computer-program creators and unknown artists.’
      • ‘This year there are very few ‘names’ and a lot of unknown artists.’
      • ‘This monumental picture, the work of an unknown artist, painted on a hot, Italian summer day in July 1747, is much more than the evocative period piece it first appears to be.’
      • ‘There is also analysis, opinion, portfolios of unknown artists or translated items from the Internet.’
      • ‘It would operate as a collective, showcase unknown artists, provide free space to performers and be run by volunteers.’
      • ‘But this performance artist is not unknown - indeed, he points to a number of products in his shop that he has personally endorsed on television.’
      • ‘He supported famous Korean painter Lee Jung-sup when he was an unknown artist and enabled him to get an exhibition.’
      • ‘To enable the gallery to survive and make it possible to exhibit ‘difficult’ art or art by good but unknown artists, he also sells works of already famous artists.’
      • ‘The reason for this is truly mystifying as she never missed an opportunity to work with both famous and unknown singers and orchestras.’
      • ‘Purchasing art by an unknown artist is, economically speaking, a risky transaction.’


  • 1An unknown person or thing.

    ‘she is a relative unknown’
    • ‘He returned to Rome and enrolled in film school, after which he began working with Leone - still a relative unknown in the 1960s.’
    • ‘A relative unknown until recently, Sean made a fantastic debut on the Irish Tour in February and is hotly tipped as a real star of the future.’
    • ‘It's a cast of relative unknowns in a show that people pay $100 a seat to see over and over and over again.’
    • ‘A decade ago, he was a relative unknown in a minority party.’
    • ‘Indeed, with all the attention that has surrounded him of late, it's easy to forget that Fiennes was a relative unknown outside the West End five years ago.’
    • ‘And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.’
    • ‘More importantly for his reputation, the scientific world was bewildered that a relative unknown had out-thought and out-designed the world's finest minds.’
    • ‘Mr Davis, who is married and has three children, would start as a relative unknown among rank-and-file party members.’
    • ‘Some relative unknowns are going to have to come through in the bullpen.’
    • ‘Until recently, however, the gifted Welshman was a relative unknown in these parts.’
    • ‘The production team is a group of relative unknowns and judging by their work here, they deserve to remain as such.’
    • ‘The actors were friends, relatives, or unknowns except in other Romero films.’
    • ‘At this year's World Championships, the men's 100 metres was won by a relative unknown in the slowest time for 20 years.’
    • ‘What is it that we don't know here, the unknown unknowns, as some people in Washington might say?’
    • ‘Will the monarchy under a relative unknown remain relevant, acting as a necessary source of stability?’
    • ‘The scientist just could not get the point that these unknowns were as yet unknown!’
    • ‘Only the ratings-challenged, smaller American networks seem willing to place a relative unknown in a lead role.’
    • ‘The idea that we are up against unknown unknowns if taken literally is trivial.’
    • ‘I think that the press will be kinder to an unknown, to an unknown.’
    • ‘This year's lineup was surprisingly good, in part because so many of the films came in as relative unknowns.’
    1. 1.1the unknown That which is unknown.
      ‘our fear of the unknown’
      • ‘Secondly, by attending an ante-natal class, parents can be educated and prepared, omitting the fear of the unknown, especially for first time parents.’
      • ‘Fear of the dark or fear of the unknown can result in many people not living their life to the fullest, missing out on theatre, films or a night out at a restaurant.’
      • ‘That cultural barrier and fear of the unknown are what nearly stopped me from getting my first colonoscopy and have kept a lot of my friends from undergoing the procedure.’
      • ‘And the 53-year-old suggested fear of the unknown was behind his dismissal.’
      • ‘I was in a vulnerable state - easily manipulated because I could not imagine the next step, because fear of the unknown made me believe outrageous things.’
      • ‘It could be the fear of the unknown that causes us to hesitate, but only by turning the key and venturing through will we unravel the mystery that lies within.’
      • ‘Christopher stated that the attack on liberal humanism, and economic rationalism and globalisation, reflect a common factor, fear of change, fear of the unknown.’
      • ‘Yet beneath our external acceptance, which to some degree has been forced upon us, there lies a deep sense that it is not and under that a deeper fear of the unknown.’
      • ‘You've let yourself be shaped by your fears of the unknown.’
      • ‘I don't think it's fear of the unknown; I've always been something of an over-achiever, going out of my comfort zone.’
      • ‘‘It all leads to the same place - fear of the unknown, fear of letting go, facing your own death,’ she has confessed.’
      • ‘But I've made my own set of mistakes and I see it reflected in her need for order out of chaos and her fears of the unknown.’
      • ‘He was and still is afraid of darkness - the fear of the unknown.’
      • ‘‘Employers have always avoided employing people with disability, mostly because of simple fear of the unknown,’ he said.’
      • ‘And that fear we recognize as racism, a fear of the unknown, a fear of what's happening in this country.’
      • ‘The fear of the unknown beyond death is too much.’
      • ‘In other words, their leaving the restaurant mid-meal may not have been passing judgment on you at all, just driven by fear, even if it is only fear of the unknown.’
      • ‘‘Certainly there is an element of racism in the situation in Sighthill, but the stronger factor is ignorance and myths and a fear of the unknown,’ he said.’
      • ‘I believe that desperation comes out of fear, fear of the unknown.’
      • ‘‘The worst thing about MS is the fear of the unknown, and not being sure in the morning what might happen that day,’ he said.’
    2. 1.2Mathematics An unknown quantity or variable.
      ‘find the unknown in the following equations’
      • ‘He sets up the coefficients of the system of three linear equations in three unknowns as a table on a ‘counting board’.’
      • ‘This leads to 5 linear equations in 5 unknowns and he refers the reader to an appendix containing Cramer's rule for their solution.’
      • ‘One of these is Pascal's triangle which gives the coefficients needed to expand sums of unknowns up to the eighth power.’
      • ‘X was popularised as the unknown in maths when Descartes' printer ran out of Ys and Zs for the mathematician's equations.’
      • ‘There is, however, work in progress concerning the numerical solution of linear equations with several unknowns using electrical circuits.’


  • unknown to

    • Without the knowledge of.

      ‘unknown to Miller the police had taped their telephone conversation’
      • ‘The rest of the songs were unknown to the band and to some extent even myself.’
      • ‘This way of thinking stayed with him when he left the navy and, unknown to him, he carried on storing away his problems.’
      • ‘Sadly, the world has been feuding for many years and unknown to her, the dispute is because of her.’
      • ‘One of the $20 banknotes we gave the cashier had a bit of tape on it, quite unknown to us.’
      • ‘Sudds was critically ill, to the knowledge of his wardens but unknown to Darling.’
      • ‘Nick manages to lock himself in it, his whereabouts unknown to anyone.’
      • ‘It later emerged that, unknown to the protesters, the meeting continued in private in an adjacent room.’
      • ‘The meet took place 48 hours after the Hunting Bill came into force and unknown to the police the riders made a kill.’
      • ‘Clearly this delicate juggling process runs into trouble if games are moved around unknown to us.’
      • ‘When an infant comes near, her arms extend from her body to hold it, even if it is unknown to her.’