Definition of unknown quantity in English:

unknown quantity


  • A person or thing whose nature, value, or significance cannot be determined or is not yet known.

    ‘the producers replaced her with an unknown quantity’
    ‘a student ensemble is always something of an unknown quantity’
    • ‘Morris is an enigmatic moviemaker, an unknown quantity in the filmmaker personality department.’
    • ‘Europe makes them something of an unknown quantity.’
    • ‘On top of that, he's also something of an unknown quantity in Premiership terms, just like Stead was when he first joined Rovers from Huddersfield a year ago.’
    • ‘Rather than the unknown quantity of last year, this year's five couples were chosen in what was a rather cynical approach to conflict and contest.’
    • ‘To a certain extent, he feels Galway are a bit of an unknown quantity, pointing out that he had only seen bits of pieces of them in televised games.’
    • ‘‘They're an unknown quantity and they're at home so you never know,’ he said.’
    • ‘When I questioned one member about this, he suggested that was because the committee knew the reformers well, while the landowners were an unknown quantity.’
    • ‘The label Frankenfoods is, as always, the way to get press, and a decent metaphor for the ambiguous nature of the unknown quantity.’
    • ‘He'd be a little off centre, a little more alien - it would make him an unknown quantity as Superman and appear nerdy and disconnected as Kent.’
    • ‘He is an astute negotiator in the field but he remains something of an unknown quantity when it comes to national partnership talks.’
    • ‘He said: ‘Her successor is an unknown quantity as yet but eventually I hope to raise the issue with him.’’
    • ‘Perhaps they'll land on some desolate planet where rock & roll is an unknown quantity.’
    • ‘‘We've yet to play Sheffield this season so they are a bit of an unknown quantity,’ said Brown.’
    • ‘Let's not gamble that with somebody who is an unknown quantity.’
    • ‘She's an unknown quantity right now, so it could all work for the state.’
    • ‘To be sure the Australian true crime book is not an unknown quantity, but how often does it propagate beyond its native shores?’
    • ‘The newly appointed director was still for most people something of an unknown quantity.’
    • ‘Dislocated people: they're an unknown quantity, aren't they?’
    • ‘‘When I came to The Stoop I was an unknown quantity, but I have proved myself,’ he said.’
    • ‘Cowen remains something of an unknown quantity on the issue, but those who have followed the career of the new finance minister claim he takes his lead from civil servants.’