From Old English unteald (“not counted or reckoned”), from tellan (“count, relate, tell”).
- (General American) IPA(key): /ʌnˈtoʊld/
Audio (Southern England) (file)
- Homophone: untolled
- Rhymes: -əʊld
untold (not comparable)
- Not told; not related; not revealed; secret.
- Not numbered or counted.
- 2010 January 14, Simon Romero, “Haiti Lies in Ruins; Grim Search for Untold Dead”, in The New York Times:
- Huge swaths of Port-au-Prince lay in ruins, and thousands of people were feared dead in the rubble.
- 2012, James Lambert, “Beyond Hobson-Jobson: A new lexicography for Indian English”, in World Englishes, page 301:
- More importantly, there is an untold multitude of Indian English terms that have never been given lexicographical treatment in any dictionary.
- (literary) Not able to be counted, measured, told, expressed in words, or described; extremely large in scale, number, quantity, suffering, damage, etc.; uncountable, unmeasurable, immeasurable, indescribable, inexpressible.
The "inexpressible" sense of untold is pragmatic; it is determined only by context. This use is common in Lovecraftian and Gothic Horror genres, where stories focus mainly on incomprehensible or indescribable things, and so are rendered inexpressible by their characters. Typically, these characters will speak of untold "treasures" or "suffering", or other things of indefinite but immense magnitude.