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[uhn-ley] /ʌnˈleɪ/
verb (used with object), unlaid, unlaying.
to separate (a strand) from a rope.
to untwist (a rope) in order to separate its strands.
Origin of unlay
First recorded in 1720-30; un-2 + lay1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for unlay
Historical Examples
  • To untwist, to unlay ropes; to teaze, to convert it into oakum.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • unlay the strands for a convenient length; then take an end in each hand, place them one within the other, and draw them close.

    The Seaman's Friend Richard Henry Dana
  • unlay the end of a rope for a short distance, and lay the three strands upon the standing part, so as to form an eye.

    The Seaman's Friend Richard Henry Dana
  • Take the end of a rope and unlay one strand; place the two remaining strands back alongside of the standing part (Fig. 92).

    Knots, Splices and Rope Work

    A. Hyatt Verrill
  • The ordinary way of pointing a rope is to first whip as described (Fig. 4), and then unlay the end as for the Flemish eye.

    Knots, Splices and Rope Work

    A. Hyatt Verrill
British Dictionary definitions for unlay


verb -lays, -laying, -laid
(transitive) to untwist (a rope or cable) to separate its strands
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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