Definition of unknown in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌənˈnōn/


1Not known or familiar: exploration into unknown territory his whereabouts are unknown to his family
More example sentences
  • But behind these familiar figures is an unknown Ganesha, whose origins lie deep in the subcontinent's prehistory.
  • 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.
  • As Shawn and I were continuing our way to unknown territory, I spotted a familiar figure leaving some disco with a few other people.
uncertain, undisclosed, unrevealed, secret;
undetermined, undecided, unresolved, unsettled, unsure, unascertained
unexplored, uncharted, unmapped, untraveled, undiscovered, unfamiliar, unheard of, new, novel, strange
faceless, hidden
obscure, unrecognized, unheard of, unsung, overlooked, unheralded, minor, insignificant, unimportant
1.1(Of a performer or artist) not well known or famous.
Example sentences
  • 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.
  • So whether the production is large-scale or small, performed in London or Chichester, with famous or unknown actors is irrelevant to its success.


1An unknown person or thing: she is a relative unknown
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
mystery, unknown quantity, uncertainty, ambiguity, variable, anyone's guess
informal crapshoot
1.1 Mathematics An unknown quantity or variable: find the unknown in the following equations
More example sentences
  • There is, however, work in progress concerning the numerical solution of linear equations with several unknowns using electrical circuits.
  • 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.
1.2 (the unknown) That which is unknown: our fear of the unknown
More example sentences
  • Christopher stated that the attack on liberal humanism, and economic rationalism and globalisation, reflect a common factor, fear of change, 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.
  • Secondly, by attending an ante-natal class, parents can be educated and prepared, omitting the fear of the unknown, especially for first time parents.


unknown to

Without the knowledge of: unknown to Miller, the police had taped their telephone conversation
More example sentences
  • Sudds was critically ill, to the knowledge of his wardens but unknown to Darling.
  • When an infant comes near, her arms extend from her body to hold it, even if it is unknown to her.
  • Clearly this delicate juggling process runs into trouble if games are moved around unknown to us.



Example sentences
  • Clearly, West Mexico's ‘unknownness’ rendered its grave goods malleable signifiers, and ironically, the ceramics' relative anonymity both led to and coexisted with regular appearances in twentieth-century visual culture.
  • The externalisation of the world, the unknownness of the mind and the unknownness of the universe are the same.
  • At the most it may be unknown, but that unknownness will disappear and it will be transformed into a known thing.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: un·known

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