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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for unlay
Historical Examples
  • 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
  • To untwist, to unlay ropes; to teaze, to convert it into oakum.

    The Sailor's Word-Book William Henry Smyth
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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
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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