Definition of unknown in English:



  • 1Not known or familiar.

    ‘exploration into unknown territory’
    ‘his whereabouts are unknown to his family’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Once that decision is made, a couple enters an unknown territory, where a new future must be mapped out.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Freedom and adventure are inviting you into unknown territory and there is nothing to hold you back at this point.’
    • ‘Seven chapters tell stories that are mostly based on previously unknown archival sources.’
    • ‘Finally, 7 of 15 interactors with a hitherto unknown function were shown to interfere with apoptosis.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She stood just inside the gate and clutched her small bundle of possessions, her one familiar token in an unknown world.’
    • ‘Thus there has emerged a previously unknown source of initiative.’
    • ‘As Shawn and I were continuing our way to unknown territory, I spotted a familiar figure leaving some disco with a few other people.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For some hitherto unknown reason, Emilia was not best pleased.’
    • ‘This time out, the author returns to both familiar and unknown ground to collect new stories, strange encounters and first hand accounts.’
    • ‘But behind these familiar figures is an unknown Ganesha, whose origins lie deep in the subcontinent's prehistory.’
    • ‘In each of several trials, he found an unknown toy among familiar toys and brought it back with good consistency.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, for reasons unknown to man, nobody did anything until 10.’
    unfamiliar, unheard of, unprecedented, new, novel, strange, exotic
    obscure, unheard of, little known, unsung, minor, insignificant, unimportant, undistinguished, unrenowned, inconsequential, lowly, unhonoured, forgotten
    undisclosed, unrevealed, undivulged, untold, unspecified, secret, mysterious, dark, hidden, concealed
    unidentified, unnamed, nameless, anonymous, undesignated, incognito, mysterious
    unexplored, uncharted, unmapped, untravelled, undiscovered, virgin
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    1. 1.1 (of a performer or artist) not well known or famous.
      • ‘He supported famous Korean painter Lee Jung-sup when he was an unknown artist and enabled him to get an exhibition.’
      • ‘It's a solid middle-of-the-road release that has some good performances from unknown actors.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘According to some, the depiction of Lord Shiva, by an unknown artist, was about 200 years old.’
      • ‘Purchasing art by an unknown artist is, economically speaking, a risky transaction.’
      • ‘Except, in 1983, number six and number sixteen were great achievements for an unknown artist, surely?’
      • ‘As is typically the case, Loach coaxes effective performance out of unknown actors.’
      • ‘There is also analysis, opinion, portfolios of unknown artists or translated items from the Internet.’
      • ‘They are usually painted by nonacademic artists and unknown painters.’
      • ‘The collection includes the famous as well as the not so famous and unknown artists too.’
      • ‘Much of that cash goes to newbie computer-program creators and unknown artists.’
      • ‘So whether the production is large-scale or small, performed in London or Chichester, with famous or unknown actors is irrelevant to its success.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It would operate as a collective, showcase unknown artists, provide free space to performers and be run by volunteers.’
      • ‘The reason for this is truly mystifying as she never missed an opportunity to work with both famous and unknown singers and orchestras.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If it's an unknown artist, they say ‘I'm doing her a favor by promoting her work.’’
      • ‘This year there are very few ‘names’ and a lot of unknown artists.’


  • 1An unknown person or thing.

    ‘she is a relative unknown’
    • ‘The actors were friends, relatives, or unknowns except in other Romero films.’
    • ‘Mr Davis, who is married and has three children, would start as a relative unknown among rank-and-file party members.’
    • ‘And each year, we discover a few more of those unknown unknowns.’
    • ‘What is it that we don't know here, the unknown unknowns, as some people in Washington might say?’
    • ‘It's a cast of relative unknowns in a show that people pay $100 a seat to see over and over and over again.’
    • ‘Will the monarchy under a relative unknown remain relevant, acting as a necessary source of stability?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Some relative unknowns are going to have to come through in the bullpen.’
    • ‘Only the ratings-challenged, smaller American networks seem willing to place a relative unknown in a lead role.’
    • ‘Until recently, however, the gifted Welshman was a relative unknown in these parts.’
    • ‘The scientist just could not get the point that these unknowns were as yet unknown!’
    • ‘This year's lineup was surprisingly good, in part because so many of the films came in as relative unknowns.’
    • ‘The idea that we are up against unknown unknowns if taken literally is trivial.’
    • ‘He returned to Rome and enrolled in film school, after which he began working with Leone - still a relative unknown in the 1960s.’
    • ‘A decade ago, he was a relative unknown in a minority party.’
    • ‘I think that the press will be kinder to an unknown, to an unknown.’
    • ‘The production team is a group of relative unknowns and judging by their work here, they deserve to remain as such.’
    • ‘At this year's World Championships, the men's 100 metres was won by a relative unknown in the slowest time for 20 years.’
    1. 1.1Mathematics An unknown quantity or variable.
      ‘find the unknown in the following equations’
      • ‘One of these is Pascal's triangle which gives the coefficients needed to expand sums of unknowns up to the eighth power.’
      • ‘There is, however, work in progress concerning the numerical solution of linear equations with several unknowns using electrical circuits.’
      • ‘X was popularised as the unknown in maths when Descartes' printer ran out of Ys and Zs for the mathematician's equations.’
      • ‘This leads to 5 linear equations in 5 unknowns and he refers the reader to an appendix containing Cramer's rule for their solution.’
      • ‘He sets up the coefficients of the system of three linear equations in three unknowns as a table on a ‘counting board’.’
    2. 1.2the unknown That which is unknown.
      ‘our fear of the unknown’
      • ‘‘Employers have always avoided employing people with disability, mostly because of simple fear of the unknown,’ he said.’
      • ‘Christopher stated that the attack on liberal humanism, and economic rationalism and globalisation, reflect a common factor, fear of change, fear of the unknown.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘And the 53-year-old suggested fear of the unknown was behind his dismissal.’
      • ‘‘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 don't think it's fear of the unknown; I've always been something of an over-achiever, going out of my comfort zone.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘‘It all leads to the same place - fear of the unknown, fear of letting go, facing your own death,’ she has confessed.’
      • ‘‘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.’
      • ‘The fear of the unknown beyond death is too much.’
      • ‘And that fear we recognize as racism, a fear of the unknown, a fear of what's happening in this country.’
      • ‘I believe that desperation comes out of fear, fear of the unknown.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Secondly, by attending an ante-natal class, parents can be educated and prepared, omitting the fear of the unknown, especially for first time parents.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He was and still is afraid of darkness - the fear of the unknown.’