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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 unravelled
Historical Examples
  • Then little by little he unravelled the boy's desire, and the story of the treasure.

    Paul the Minstrel and Other Stories Arthur Christopher Benson
  • I stepped off him, unravelled the lead and dragged him to the Parcels Office.

    Once a Week Alan Alexander Milne
  • Well, these little complications must be unravelled; the first difficulty faced, the second ignored or overcome.

    Second String Anthony Hope
  • Directly it was light I took off and unravelled one of my socks.

    A Bid for Fortune Guy Boothby
  • The nerve cells and the nerves are arranged in an ordered plan which has been unravelled by ingenious methods.

  • Men like the problem that they fancy they have unravelled by their own acuteness.

    The Bramleighs Of Bishop's Folly Charles James Lever
  • Never had the British mind shown itself so décousu--so unravelled, at sea, floundering in every sort of historical shipwreck.

  • The Government has unravelled a good deal of the conspiracy.

  • It fulfils its mission when it is ravelled and knitted, then unravelled.

    The Man Thou Gavest Harriet T. Comstock
  • We shall have unravelled all your mysteries, and read all your riddles, by—when shall I say?

    Framley Parsonage Anthony Trollope
British Dictionary definitions for unravelled


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 unravelled



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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