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I concede that "uncharted territory" is not that casual, but it's slightly below the formal bar that I have set up for myself (not to mention it's somewhat over-used). So, I still want to replace the phrase "uncharted territory" with something more formal/academic.

The manufacturing sector remains ____________ for foreign investors.

But I'm ok with rearranging the sentence to fit, for example:

To make few I thought of fit:

  • entails unknowns
  • elements of uncertainty

I tried:

Foreign investors still find that elements of uncertainty surround the manufacturing sector.

But I still don't feel like I have really captured the essence of the phrase.

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  • "an untapped resource" or new frontier, undeveloped/unexplored resource,
    – tblue
    Nov 17, 2020 at 3:15
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    If you want formal, what about "terra incognita"? Nov 17, 2020 at 10:40

3 Answers 3

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At least you are avoiding the mistake of "Unchartered territory" I hear more frequently.

I think uncharted territory is plenty formal. It is well understood and does not sound the least casual. One alternative is Terra Incognita which only means land we do not know. Though it sounds remote it is really just other land, not a magic place. It includes the elements of unknown and uncertainty you are looking for. It does bristle with Latinate which can be annoying to the larger herbivores. With that you could just say New land and be done with it.

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  • Terra Incognita was my first thought, you quite often see it in used metaphorically to mean an unfamiliar field of operation or study, or new and unknown circumstances.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 18, 2020 at 13:42
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Uncharted territory sounds plenty formal. But just to answer, unsurveyed domain should be good.

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If you want something that's archaic, use "Here be dragons":

"Here be dragons" (hic sunt dracones in Latin) means dangerous or unexplored territories, in imitation of a medieval practice of putting illustrations of dragons, sea monsters and other mythological creatures on uncharted areas of maps where potential dangers were thought to exist.

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