verb (used with object), un·did, un·done, un·do·ing.
  1. to reverse the doing of; cause to be as if never done: Murder once done can never be undone.
  2. to do away with; erase; efface: to undo the havoc done by the storm.
  3. to bring to ruin or disaster; destroy: In the end his lies undid him.
  4. to unfasten by releasing: to undo a gate; to undo a button.
  5. to untie or loose (a knot, rope, etc.).
  6. to open (a package, wrapping, etc.).
  7. Archaic. to explain; interpret.

Origin of undo

before 900; Middle English; Old English undōn; cognate with Dutch ontdoen. See un-2, do1
Related formsun·do·a·ble, adjective
Can be confusedundo undue
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for undoes

Contemporary Examples of undoes

  • It undoes some of the progress made after 9/11 to push information out of agency silos and share it widely across the government.

    The Daily Beast logo
    WikiLeaks’ Harmful New Dump

    P.J. Crowley

    August 31, 2011

  • Then Yvette, who is married to an older intellectual, undoes her skirt and waits for Salim in his bed.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Naipaul's Art of Darkness

    Amitava Kumar

    December 26, 2008

Historical Examples of undoes

  • The deed done to Helen strikes every Greek man till he undoes it.

    Homer's Odyssey

    Denton J. Snider

  • Whichever of these courses we pursue, the hurry with which we pursue it undoes us.

  • A day like this undoes the work of a hundred numbers of the Jacobin papers.

  • (He bends again and undoes the buttons of Stephen's waistcoat) To breathe.


    James Joyce

  • The very thought of it undoes me—with an absolute shock of sheepishness.

    The Return

    Walter de la Mare

British Dictionary definitions for undoes


verb -does, -doing, -did or -done (mainly tr)
  1. (also intr) to untie, unwrap, or open or become untied, unwrapped, etc
  2. to reverse the effects of
  3. to cause the downfall of
  4. obsolete to explain or solve
Derived Formsundoer, 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

Word Origin and History for undoes



Old English undon "to unfasten and open" (a window or door), "to unfasten by releasing from a fixed position," from un- (2) + do (v.). The notion is of "to annul something that was done." Related: Undone; undoing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper