verb (used with object)
  1. to take the load from; remove the cargo or freight from: to unload a truck; to unload a cart.
  2. to remove or discharge (a load, group of people, etc.): to unload passengers.
  3. to remove the charge from (a firearm).
  4. to relieve of anything burdensome, oppressive, etc.: He unloaded his responsibilities.
  5. to get rid of (goods, shares of stock, etc.) by sale in large quantities.
verb (used without object)
  1. to unload something.
  2. Informal. to relieve one's stress by talking, confessing, or the like.

Origin of unload

First recorded in 1515–25; un-2 + load
Related formsun·load·er, nounself-un·load·ing, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for unloading

Contemporary Examples of unloading

Historical Examples of unloading

  • They're unloading supplies in vast quantities from Chickasaw Bayou.

    The Rock of Chickamauga

    Joseph A. Altsheler

  • In unloading it I fear that one of the slugs blew a hole in brother Nonus.

    Micah Clarke

    Arthur Conan Doyle

  • A carriage had drawn up at the curb and the driver was unloading a trunk from the rack.

    Cap'n Dan's Daughter

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • Stanley pointed to the troopers who were unloading their mounts.

    The Mountain Divide

    Frank H. Spearman

  • The work of unloading the Ida went on briskly all the morning.

    The Island Mystery

    George A. Birmingham

British Dictionary definitions for unloading


  1. to remove a load or cargo from (a ship, lorry, etc)
  2. to discharge (cargo, freight, etc)
  3. (tr) to relieve of a burden or troubles
  4. (tr) to give vent to (anxiety, troubles, etc)
  5. (tr) to get rid of or dispose of (esp surplus goods)
  6. (tr) to remove the charge of ammunition from (a firearm)
Derived Formsunloader, 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 unloading



1520s, in reference to cargo, from un- (2) + load (v.). Figurative sense (in reference to feelings, etc.) is recorded from 1590s. Related: Unloaded; unloading.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper