an unknown quantity


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an unknown quantity

A person or thing that is unpredictable and thus difficult to anticipate. We're still revising our new product, so its potential success is an unknown quantity. This is her first year teaching, so her ability to connect with her students is still an unknown quantity.
See also: quantity, unknown

*unknown quantity

Fig. a person or thing about which no one is certain. (*Typically: be ~; become ~.) John is an unknown quantity. We don't know how he's going to act. The new clerk is an unknown quantity. Things may not turn out all right.
See also: quantity, unknown

unknown quantity

An unpredictable person or thing, as in We don't know how the new pitcher will do-he's an unknown quantity. This expression comes from algebra, where it signifies an unknown numerical value. Its figurative use dates from the mid-1800s.
See also: quantity, unknown

an unknown quantity

COMMON If someone or something is an unknown quantity, not much is known about them. She had met Max several times, but he was still pretty much an unknown quantity. The team is something of an unknown quantity, having played few big games. Ballet was an unknown quantity in the United States at that time.
See also: quantity, unknown

unknown quantity

a person or thing whose nature, value, or significance cannot be determined or is not yet known.
See also: quantity, unknown

an ˌunknown ˈquantity

a person or thing that you do not know anything or enough about: His ability to make decisions in a crisis is an unknown quantity.Our new director is still an unknown quantity.
See also: quantity, unknown
References in periodicals archive ?
Recognized for three decades but never really reckoned with, Hanne Darboven's work remains very much an unknown quantity. The full measure of her proliferative practice and the terms it sets for contemporary art has been all too easily obscured by art criticism's unstoppable romance with authentic subjectivity, the private, the personal, and the autobiographical.
Cork are one of those teams that are under the radar at the moment, we're not hearing much about them but I think they're a bit of an unknown quantity given their young team probably did better than expected in 2013.
An unknown quantity of the Class B drug was seized from the property, but last night police could not confirm how much.
The attacker forced a staff member to the floor and dragged him into an office before taking an unknown quantity of cash.
The 19-year-old from Aachen is a bit of an unknown quantity having drawn his first contest staged in his hometown in May against 2-2-1 countryman Marcel Gottschalk.
BEST LONGSHOT A forecast outsider who could be primed to outrun its likely odds TOO MUCH TROUBLE is an unknown quantity but could provide an upset in the Group 3 Virgin Money Chester Vase (2.45), writes Ed Quigley.
"It is a gamble and yet Jay Simpson looks bright and sharp and looks as if he can play at the level and yet an unknown quantity because he had never started a Premier League game," added Mowbray.
AS A former teacher of mathematics, I was used to teaching my pupils that an X meant either an unknown quantity or that something was wrong.
This was the first time that SPS Entitlements had been sold at a farm sale and as such they were an unknown quantity. He said: "This was an interesting exercise, an important milestone which created much interest from potential purchasers and the media.
A masked man threatened a member of staff with the weapon yesterday, before the three fled with an unknown quantity of cash, leaving their victim shaken but unharmed.
Station Officer Steve Owens, of Grangetown fire station, said: "At least two pigeons and an unknown quantity of chickens died.
You would expect the Irish to beat Saudi Arabia and, although Cameroon are an unknown quantity, you really wouldn't fancy them to progress beyond the opening stages.
Durham are something of an unknown quantity, but they have already seen off Oxfordshire in the first round and they also beat Lincolnshire on Sunday in the ECB 38-County cup.
As Katherine Devires, she's just about to trap a much-feared Asian drug- lord, when an unknown quantity enters the frame and prescribes a rather swifter version of justice through the medium of hot lead all round.
He insisted: "We've always been competitive in Spain but the rest of the field is a bit of an unknown quantity this year."