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 terrae incognitae (audio) , -​in-​ˈkäg-​nə-​ˌtī \

Definition of terra incognita

: unknown territory : an unexplored country or field of knowledge

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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 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 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 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 All of which is to say, Sunday will be terra incognita. The Si Staff, SI.com, "Rafael Nadal vs. Daniil Medvedev: Keys to the Match, Predictions for U.S. Open Final," 7 Sep. 2019 An army of radioastronomy projects small and large is now trying to chart this terra incognita. Davide Castelvecchi, Scientific American, "The Quest to Unlock the Secrets of the Baby Universe," 26 Aug. 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.

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First Known Use of terra incognita

1611, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for terra incognita

Latin

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Time Traveler for terra incognita

Time Traveler

The first known use of terra incognita was in 1611

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Statistics for terra incognita

Last Updated

15 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Terra incognita.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/terra%20incognita. Accessed 16 Feb. 2020.

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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

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