terra incognita

noun
ter·​ra in·​cog·​ni·​ta | \ ˈter-ə-ˌin-ˌkäg-ˈnē-tə How to pronounce terra incognita (audio) , -in-ˈkäg-nə-tə How to pronounce terra incognita (audio) \
plural terrae incognitae\ ˈter-​ˌī-​ˌin-​ˌkäg-​ˈnē-​ˌtī How to pronounce terra incognita (audio) , -​in-​ˈkäg-​nə-​ˌtī \

Definition of terra incognita

: unknown territory : an unexplored country or field of knowledge

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?

When Roman mapmakers drew a land area that no one had yet explored, they often labeled it "Terra Incognita"—that is, "Unknown Territory"—and the term continued to be used for centuries afterward. When Columbus and his successors first crossed the Atlantic, they entered upon terra incognita, a land that came to be called the "New World". But the term is just as useful for mental exploration. For most of us, subjects such as particle physics, French 17th-century drama, and soil mechanics are terra incognita, and we can only hope to live long enough to be able to explore some of them someday.

Examples of terra incognita in a Sentence

the terra incognita beyond those mountains
Recent Examples on the Web Experiencing that terra incognita privately is the promise of Ultima Thule Lodge. Jen Murphy, Town & Country, "The Best Outdoor Adventures in America," 18 Dec. 2020 The logician Kurt Gödel proved the existence of such mathematical terra incognita nearly a century ago. Quanta Magazine, "How the Slowest Computer Programs Illuminate Math’s Fundamental Limits," 10 Dec. 2020 The surprise that initially greeted this entrenched polarization reinforces, all too well, the thrust of the current exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum: that the true terra incognita is outside of town. Jason Farago, New York Times, "Rem Koolhaas Gives Beleaguered City Folk a Trip to the Countryside," 5 Nov. 2020 But for climbers in the first half of the 20th century, limited by rudimentary tools and techniques, El Capitan was terra incognita. New York Times, "Wayne Merry, Climber Who Conquered El Capitan, Dies at 88," 3 Dec. 2019 Lost in a subterranean terra incognita, the explorer might lie somewhere under track 12. Megan Gannon, Popular Science, "Archaeologists and construction workers are teaming up to unearth historic relics," 13 Apr. 2020 For the most part, these companies were treading on terra incognita. Washington Post, "WeWork Takes the Startup-Mania Era to Its Logical Extreme," 16 Aug. 2019 For the most part, these companies were treading on terra incognita. Washington Post, "WeWork Takes the Startup-Mania Era to Its Logical Extreme," 16 Aug. 2019 But for climbers in the first half of the 20th century, limited by rudimentary tools and techniques, El Capitan was terra incognita. BostonGlobe.com, "But Wayne Merry, Warren Harding, and George Whitmore were determined to go much higher.," 6 Dec. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'terra incognita.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of terra incognita

1611, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for terra incognita

Latin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about terra incognita

Time Traveler for terra incognita

Time Traveler

The first known use of terra incognita was in 1611

See more words from the same year

Statistics for terra incognita

Last Updated

26 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Terra incognita.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terra%20incognita. Accessed 17 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for terra incognita

terra incognita

noun
How to pronounce terra incognita (audio) How to pronounce terra incognita (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of terra incognita

formal : a place that has not been discovered or that is unknown

Comments on terra incognita

What made you want to look up terra incognita? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Words of Snow and Ice Quiz

  • image1037863653
  • Which of the following refers to thin, bending ice, or to the act of running over such ice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Typeshift

Anagram puzzles meet word search.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!