Try Our Apps


The Best Internet Slang


[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
First recorded in 1595-1605; un-2 + ravel
Related forms
unraveler; especially British, unraveller, noun
unravelment, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
Cite This Source
Examples from the Web for unravel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • What if to-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow brings no light to unravel this mystery?

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine
  • The whole affair is a terrible mystery; be assured I will do my best to unravel it.

    The Cat of Bubastes G. A. Henty
  • What the police have failed to fathom, how can you hope to unravel?

    The Hound From The North Ridgwell Cullum
  • She has that sort of head that loves a hard knot to unravel!

    Barrington Charles James Lever
  • Of all the tangled webs ever I essayed to unravel, this is the knottiest.

    Confessions Of Con Cregan Charles James Lever
British Dictionary definitions for unravel


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
Cite This Source
Word Origin and History for unravel

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for unravel

Many English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for unravel

Scrabble Words With Friends

Nearby words for unravel