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[uhn-rav-uh l] /ʌnˈræv əl/
verb (used with object), unraveled, unraveling or (especially British) unravelled, unravelling.
to separate or disentangle the threads of (a woven or knitted fabric, a rope, etc.).
to free from complication or difficulty; make plain or clear; solve:
to unravel a situation; to unravel a mystery.
Informal. to take apart; undo; destroy (a plan, agreement, or arrangement).
verb (used without object), unraveled, unraveling or (especially British) unravelled, unravelling.
to become unraveled.
Origin of unravel
1595-1605; un-2 + ravel
Related forms
unraveler; especially British, unraveller, noun
unravelment, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for unraveling
  • Told in detail, their political history is but the unraveling of a tangle of faction fights and intrigues.
  • Using its data, researchers have made giant leaps in unraveling mysteries of the universe.
  • He starts unraveling the mysteries of this weather phenomenon.
  • The fox-farm experiment's role in unraveling that complexity is all the more remarkable for how it began.
  • The slow progress, crippling cold, and stress have begun unraveling the indispensable braided rope of teamwork.
  • He continues to look up at history unraveling before his eyes.
  • The place and date are of little help in unraveling the picture's meaning.
  • Researchers are unraveling why some people are more sensitive to pain than others.
  • Yet knotted up within the theory is a phenomenon that physicists are still unraveling: an unexplored property of light.
  • It was a year when scientists looked out into the heavens, unraveling the secrets of planets both near and far.
British Dictionary definitions for unraveling


verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
(transitive) to reduce (something knitted or woven) to separate strands
(transitive) to undo or untangle (something tangled or knotted)
(transitive) to explain or solve: the mystery was unravelled
(intransitive) to become unravelled
Derived Forms
unraveller, noun
unravelment, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for unraveling



c.1600, from un- (2) + ravel (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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