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 ?
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.
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.
At the start of this season he was an unknown quantity.
This was the first time that SPS Entitlements had been sold at a farm sale and as such they were an unknown quantity.
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.
Thompson got the nod over other minor-league candidates such as Edwin Jackson because the Diamondbacks' lineup is stacked with dangerous left-handed hitters to whom Thompson largely will be an unknown quantity.
But Councillor Bob Brady, Middlesbrough's Deputy Mayor, said the impact the Freedom of Information Act would have was still an unknown quantity.
Leeds are a bit of an unknown quantity, because they have their problems, but Leicester will be competitive.
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.
Birmingham Bulls kick off the new British American football season at the Norman Green Athletics centre in Solihull tomorrow against an old rival that has become something of an unknown quantity.
But while it has been embraced by market leaders in Asia, it's still an unknown quantity elsewhere.
An unknown quantity of milk was spilled on the motorway.
The raiders stole an unknown quantity of cigarettes as well as cash and a hard drive before leaving the store in an unknown direction.
BATE Borisov are something of an unknown quantity and have recent Champions League experience but they were put in their place by Benfica and, fingers crossed, we will do the same.
Last seen landing the Cesarewitch in October, the six-year-old remains an unknown quantity for jumping, having also scored twice in handicap hurdle company during the summer.