unknown

adjective
un·​known | \ ˌən-ˈnōn How to pronounce unknown (audio) \

Definition of unknown

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not known or not well-known also : having an unknown value an unknown quantity

unknown

noun

Definition of unknown (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : one that is not known or not well-known especially : a person who is little known (as to the public)
2 : something that requires discovery, identification, or clarification: such as
a : a symbol (such as x, y, or z) in a mathematical equation representing an unknown quantity
b : a specimen (as of bacteria or mixed chemicals) required to be identified as an exercise in appropriate laboratory techniques

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for unknown

Synonyms: Adjective

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of unknown in a Sentence

Adjective a disease of unknown cause Much remains unknown about his early life. Her music was previously unknown outside of Asia. An unknown number of cases go unreported. The victim's attacker was unknown to her. For some unknown reason, my computer crashed. a book of unknown poems Noun explorers venturing off into the unknown A fear of the unknown kept her from changing jobs. The director cast an unknown in the lead role. We're facing too many unknowns.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective From the moment a relatively unknown freshman receiver named DeVonta Smith caught a pass against Georgia three years ago to win Saban’s last national title, this was the destination. Dan Wolken, USA TODAY, "Opinion: Nick Saban and Alabama appear untouchable after securing sixth national title," 12 Jan. 2021 There was only so much that an online risk calculator built for a group of healthy, childless, possibly polyamorous people in their twenties and thirties who lived in a San Francisco group house could do for strangers in unknown situations. Gregory Barber, Wired, "How Many Microcovids Would You Spend on a Burrito?," 12 Jan. 2021 Among home visiting nurses, the rate of patient-on-nurse violence is largely unknown. Ha Do Byon, STAT, "Crossing the threshold: violence against home visiting nurses," 12 Jan. 2021 Christopher is a telekinetic cube of unknown origin. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Meet the Members of The Sparrow Academy from "The Umbrella Academy" Season 3," 11 Jan. 2021 Officers checked on a report of an unknown and unoccupied vehicle near a residence Dec. 26. cleveland, "Three men celebrate new year with an argument: Gates Mills Police Blotter," 9 Jan. 2021 The steel pipe devices were made with a battery, steel wool, and an unknown explosive powder. Anna Giaritelli, Washington Examiner, "Pipe bombs found outside DNC and RNC contained timing devices: Report," 8 Jan. 2021 Now almost universally accepted as an authentic, previously unknown early Rembrandt, the picture would be valued in the tens of millions. Los Angeles Times, "Review: How does it feel to own a Rembrandt? Or 15 of them? Inside the collectors’ quest," 6 Jan. 2021 An unknown number of others who get COVID-19 struggle with symptoms for months after. Meryl Davids Landau, Good Housekeeping, "All Your COVID-19 Vaccine Questions, Answered," 6 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Rudy Gobert arrived in Utah seven years ago as a relative unknown, without a lot of fanfare and with some serious questions about his potential. Tim Reynolds, ajc, "Gobert signs $205 million, five-year extension with Jazz," 20 Dec. 2020 When Dart, a relative unknown with no Power Five offers, emerged onto the scene in September, USC never traveled to Utah to witness his rise in person. Ryan Kartje, Los Angeles Times, "USC’s strong 2021 class could get even better in a few weeks," 16 Dec. 2020 Gang and Loewenberg teamed up in 2004 when Loewenberg was seated next to Gang, then a relative unknown, at a Harvard Club dinner where Los Angeles architect Frank Gehry was the speaker. Rick Kogan, chicagotribune.com, "Who and what we lost in 2020: From notable artists to Chicago experiences, they’re gone or changed but not forgotten," 11 Dec. 2020 This sort of thing had never been done before, so everything was an unknown. Sunset Magazine, "“It Can Get Done”—Meet the 1st Man to Pilot a Submersible to the Bottom of All 5 Oceans," 19 Nov. 2020 Shurtliff is hardly an unknown to voters in northern Utah, having previously served in the Utah House from 1999 to 2008. Bryan Schott, The Salt Lake Tribune, "The 15 most ‘flippable’ Utah legislative seats in this year’s election," 30 Oct. 2020 Yet Emhoff, a man of medium height with a receding, graying hairline, a relaxed manner and far-from-imposing presence, is still a relative unknown to the average voter. Washington Post, "Doug Emhoff paused his career for his wife Kamala Harris’s aspirations — and became the campaign’s ‘secret weapon’," 28 Oct. 2020 Another change compared with 2016 is that Trump is no longer a relative unknown. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "What’s the State of the Presidential Race Two Weeks Out?," 21 Oct. 2020 The last election cycle, candidate Trump was an unknown. Robert Hinck, The Conversation, "Russian media may be joining China and Iran in turning on Trump," 20 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unknown.' 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 unknown

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1597, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about unknown

Time Traveler for unknown

Time Traveler

The first known use of unknown was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Statistics for unknown

Last Updated

18 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unknown.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unknown. Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for unknown

unknown

adjective
How to pronounce unknown (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of unknown

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not known
: not well-known : not famous

unknown

noun

English Language Learners Definition of unknown (Entry 2 of 2)

: a place, situation, or thing that you do not know about or understand
: a person who is not famous or well-known
: something that is not known or not yet discovered

unknown

adjective
un·​known | \ ˌən-ˈnōn How to pronounce unknown (audio) \

Kids Definition of unknown

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: not known … it was cut all over with strange lines and figures that might be the letters of an unknown language.— C. S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

unknown

noun

Kids Definition of unknown (Entry 2 of 2)

: one (as a quantity) that is unknown

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on unknown

What made you want to look up unknown? 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!