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2017 Word of the Year

unravel

[uhn-rav-uh l] /ʌnˈræv əl/
verb (used with object), unraveled, unraveling or (especially British) unravelled, unravelling.
1.
to separate or disentangle the threads of (a woven or knitted fabric, a rope, etc.).
2.
to free from complication or difficulty; make plain or clear; solve:
to unravel a situation; to unravel a mystery.
3.
Informal. to take apart; undo; destroy (a plan, agreement, or arrangement).
verb (used without object), unraveled, unraveling or (especially British) unravelled, unravelling.
4.
to become unraveled.
Origin of unravel
1595-1605
First recorded in 1595-1605; un-2 + ravel
Related forms
unraveler; especially British, unraveller, noun
unravelment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for unraveling
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Why employ his slender thread of life in unraveling this intricate web.

    Oswald Langdon Carson Jay Lee
  • Then, as was his custom, he would begin an unraveling of the notion.

    Erik Dorn

    Ben Hecht
  • His mind was preoccupied with unraveling the mystery of Rita.

    Fantazius Mallare Ben Hecht
  • I am fond of unraveling puzzles, and I believe I can take this apart.

    The Telegraph Messenger Boy Edward S. Ellis
  • unraveling the mystery surrounding an old hermit and a poor boy.

British Dictionary definitions for unraveling

unravel

/ʌnˈrævəl/
verb -els, -elling, -elled (US) -els, -eling, -eled
1.
(transitive) to reduce (something knitted or woven) to separate strands
2.
(transitive) to undo or untangle (something tangled or knotted)
3.
(transitive) to explain or solve: the mystery was unravelled
4.
(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 unraveling

unravel

v.

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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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14
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