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’
    • ‘Perhaps they'll land on some desolate planet where rock & roll is an unknown quantity.’
    • ‘To be sure the Australian true crime book is not an unknown quantity, but how often does it propagate beyond its native shores?’
    • ‘‘We've yet to play Sheffield this season so they are a bit of an unknown quantity,’ said Brown.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Let's not gamble that with somebody who is an unknown quantity.’
    • ‘He said: ‘Her successor is an unknown quantity as yet but eventually I hope to raise the issue with him.’’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Europe makes them something of an unknown quantity.’
    • ‘She's an unknown quantity right now, so it could all work for the state.’
    • ‘The label Frankenfoods is, as always, the way to get press, and a decent metaphor for the ambiguous nature of the unknown quantity.’
    • ‘He is an astute negotiator in the field but he remains something of an unknown quantity when it comes to national partnership talks.’
    • ‘Dislocated people: they're an unknown quantity, aren't they?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The newly appointed director was still for most people something of an unknown quantity.’
    • ‘‘When I came to The Stoop I was an unknown quantity, but I have proved myself,’ he said.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Morris is an enigmatic moviemaker, an unknown quantity in the filmmaker personality department.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘‘They're an unknown quantity and they're at home so you never know,’ he said.’