terra incognita

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English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from Latin terra incognita (unknown land)

Noun[edit]

terra incognita

  1. Land that has never been explored or mapped; uncharted territory.
    • 1832, John Pendleton Kennedy, “Introductory Epistle”, in Swallow Barn; or, A Sojourn in the Old Dominion[1], volume 1, page 5:
      Behold me now in the full career of my voyage of discovery, exploring the James River in the steamboat, on a clear, hot fifteenth of June, and looking with a sagacious perspicacity on the commonest sights of this terra incognita.
    • 1922, Salt, Henry S., The Call of the Wildflower[2], London: George Allen & Unwin, OCLC 14023057, page 109:
      Unfortunately, this great rocky tableland has of late years become almost a terra incognita to the nature-lover, as a result of the agreement which was made, after prolonged controversy, between the Peak District Society and the grouse-shooting landlords, inasmuch as, while permitting the traveller to skirt the shoulders of the hill, it excluded him wholly from its summit.
  2. By extension, ideas or concepts that have not yet been tried or explored.
    • 2009, Gary Clark, Quadrant, November 2009, No. 461 (Volume LIII, Number 11), Quadrant Magazine Limited, page 9:
      The concept of the unconscious or an inner terra incognita, an unknown country of the psyche that precedes and predicates the Cartesian subject, the focal point of rational consciousness, was a revolutionary idea.
    • 2016, Justin O. Schmidt, The Sting of the Wild, Johns Hopkins University Press, →ISBN, p. 18
      How commonly stinging insects encounter this problem is scientific terra incognita.

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