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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 unravelling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Who has not heard of you, and your skill in the unravelling of crime?

    The Shrieking Pit Arthur J. Rees
  • Perhaps I might have served in unravelling this unhappy tangle of misunderstandings.

    In the Valley Harold Frederic
  • Most of their names are familiar to the public in connection with the unravelling of mysteries during the last decade.

    Scotland Yard George Dilnot
  • "I will cut it, which will be easier than unravelling it," Raoul replied.

  • And let me tell thee how ecstatic my delight would be on the unravelling of such a plot as this!

  • Let those who like it, lend their labour to the unravelling the secrets of the mythologies.

    Short Studies on Great Subjects James Anthony Froude
  • Gently to and fro her tresses drifted on the water, or under the water went ever ravelling and unravelling.

    Zuleika Dobson Max Beerbohm
  • He would have been glad of a little leisure and quiet for unravelling some of the knots.

    Sir Walter Ralegh William Stebbing
  • Charlotte thought she must have been mistaken, and went on unravelling her crochet mat.

    The Shadow of Ashlydyat Mrs. Henry Wood
British Dictionary definitions for unravelling


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 unravelling



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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