terra incognita

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

But a Spanish prep school is seductive terra incognita. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "Netflix’s Elite Is Your New Trashy Euro Teen Soap Obsession," 2 Oct. 2018 That takes you into a really terra incognita of social change. Clay Skipper, GQ, "Michael Pollan on Why Psychedelics Might Save Us All," 18 May 2018 Globe makers had traditionally left the other 90 degrees a blank terra incognita, or marked it as all ocean. Michael Blanding, New York Times, "Why Experts Don’t Believe This Is a Rare First Map of America," 10 Dec. 2017 Our pilots gently deposit us, and the biologists vanish into terra incognita. Richard Conniff, Smithsonian, "A New Age of Discovery Is Happening Right Now in the Remote Forests of Suriname," 29 Mar. 2017

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


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Time Traveler for terra incognita

The first known use of terra incognita was in 1611

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More Definitions for terra incognita

terra incognita


English Language Learners Definition of terra incognita

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

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