Origin of open

before 900; (adj.) Middle English, Old English; cognate with Old Saxon opan (Dutch open), Old High German offan (German offen), Old Norse opinn, akin to up; (v.) Middle English openen, Old English openian; cognate with Old Saxon opanon (Dutch openen), Old High German offanōn (German öffnen)
Related formso·pen·ly, adverbo·pen·ness, nounhalf-o·pened, adjectivepre·o·pen, verb (used with object)self-o·pened, adjectivesem·i·o·pen, adjectivesem·i·o·pen·ly, adverbsem·i·o·pen·ness, nounun·o·pened, adjective

Synonyms for open

21. See frank1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unopened

Contemporary Examples of unopened

  • Laya flew to New York and found Shulamith emaciated and panhandling, carrying a bag holding a hammer and an unopened can of food.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Shulamith Firestone's Madness

    David Frum

    April 23, 2013

Historical Examples of unopened

  • Unopened letters and unsorted papers lay strewn about the desk.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

  • At first I was inclined to hand the letter, unopened, to Hephzy.

    Kent Knowles: Quahaug

    Joseph C. Lincoln

  • “Thank you, sir,” said Don, thrusting it unopened in his pocket.

    The Wall Street Girl

    Frederick Orin Bartlett

  • Yoga Rama produced a pack of cards and asked the Committee to see that it was unopened.


    W. W. Baggally

  • Elsa handled this unopened letter with something of that same fear.

    A Bride of the Plains

    Baroness Emmuska Orczy

British Dictionary definitions for unopened



closed, barred, or sealedan unopened bottle of whisky



not closed or barredthe door is open
affording free passage, access, view, etc; not blocked or obstructedthe road is open for traffic
not sealed, fastened, or wrappedan open package
having the interior part accessiblean open drawer
extended, expanded, or unfoldedan open newspaper; an open flower
ready for businessthe shops are open
able to be obtained; availablethe position advertised last week is no longer open
unobstructed by buildings, trees, etcopen countryside
free to all to join, enter, use, visit, etcan open competition
unengaged or unoccupiedthe doctor has an hour open for you to call
not decided or finalizedan open question
ready to entertain new ideas; not biased or prejudicedan open mind
unreserved or candidshe was very open in her description
liberal or generousan open hand
extended or eager to receive (esp in the phrase with open arms)
exposed to view; blatantopen disregard of the law
liable or susceptibleyou will leave yourself open to attack if you speak
(of climate or seasons) free from frost; mild
free from navigational hazards, such as ice, sunken ships, etcopen water
US without legal restrictions or enforceable regulations, esp in relation to gambling, vice, etcan open town
without barriers to prevent abscondingan open prison
having large or numerous spacing or aperturesopen ranks
full of small openings or gaps; porousan open texture
printing (of type matter) generously leaded or widely spaced
  1. (of a violin or guitar string) not stopped with the finger
  2. (of a pipe, such as an organ pipe) not closed at either end
  3. (of a note) played on such a string or pipe
  1. in operation; activean open account
  2. unrestricted; unlimitedopen credit; open insurance cover
(of a return ticket) not specifying a date for travel
  1. (of a goal, court, etc) unguarded or relatively unprotectedthe forward missed an open goal
  2. (of a stance, esp in golf) characterized by the front of the body being turned forward
(of a wound) exposed to the air
(esp of the large intestine) free from obstruction
undefended and of no military significancean open city
  1. denoting a vowel pronounced with the lips relatively wide apart
  2. denoting a syllable that does not end in a consonant, as in pa
chess (of a file) having no pawns on it
maths (of a set) containing points whose neighbourhood consists of other points of the same setpoints inside a circle are an open set
computing (of software or a computer system) designed to an internationally agreed standard in order to allow communication between computers, irrespective of size, maufacturer, etc


to move or cause to move from a closed or fastened positionto open a window
(when intr, foll by on or onto) to render, be, or become accessible or unobstructedto open a road; to open a parcel; the door opens into the hall
(intr) to come into or appear in viewthe lake opened before us
(tr) to puncture (a boil) so as to permit drainage
to extend or unfold or cause to extend or unfoldto open a newspaper
to disclose or uncover or be disclosed or uncoveredto open one's heart
to cause (the mind) to become receptive or (of the mind) to become receptive
to operate or cause to operateto open a shop
(when intr, sometimes foll by out) to make or become less compact or dense in structureto open ranks
to set or be set in action; startto open a discussion; to open the batting
(tr) to arrange for (a bank account, savings account, etc) usually by making an initial deposit
to turn to a specified point in (a book, magazine, etc)open at page one
law to make the opening statement in (a case before a court of law)
(intr) cards to bet, bid, or lead first on a hand


the open any wide or unobstructed space or expanse, esp of land or water
sport a competition which anyone may enter
bring into the open to make evident or public
come into the open to become) evident or public
See also open up
Derived Formsopenable, adjectiveopenly, adverbopenness, noun

Word Origin for open

Old English; related to Old French open, epen, Old Saxon opan, Old High German offan
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 unopened



early 13c., "an aperture or opening," from open (adj.). Meaning "public knowledge" (especially in out in the open) is from 1942, but cf. Middle English in open (late 14c.) "manifestly, publicly." The sense of "an open competition" is from 1926, originally in a golf context.



Old English openian "to open, open up, disclose, reveal," also intransitive, "become manifest, be open to or exposed to," from Proto-Germanic *opanojan (cf. Old Saxon opanon, Old Norse opna "to open," Middle Dutch, Dutch openen, Old High German offanon, German öffnen), from the source of open (adj.), but etymology suggests the adjective is older. Open up "cease to be secretive" is from 1921. Related: Opened; opening.



Old English open "not closed down, raised up" (of gates, eyelids, etc.), also "exposed, evident, well-known, public," often in a bad sense, "notorious, shameless;" from Proto-Germanic *upana, literally "put or set up" (cf. Old Norse opinn, Swedish öppen, Danish aaben, Old Saxon opan, Old Frisian epen, Old High German offan, German offen "open"), from PIE *upo "up from under, over" (cf. Latin sub, Greek hypo; see sub-). Related to up, and throughout Germanic the word has the appearance of a past participle of *up (v.), but no such verb has been found. The source of words for "open" in many Indo-European languages seems to be an opposite of the word for "closed, shut" (e.g. Gothic uslukan).

Of physical spaces, "unobstructed, unencumbered," c.1200; of rooms with unclosed entrances, c.1300; of wounds, late 14c. Transferred sense of "frank, candid" is attested from early 14c. Of shops, etc., "available for business," it dates from 1824. Open-handed "liberal, generous" is from c.1600. Open door in reference to international trading policies is attested from 1856. Open season is first recorded 1896, of game; and figuratively 1914 of persons. Open book in the figurative sense of "person easy to understand" is from 1853. Open house "hospitality for all visitors" is first recorded 1824. Open-and-shut "simple, straightforward" first recorded 1841 in New Orleans. Open marriage, one in which the partners sleep with whomever they please, is from 1972. Open road (1817, American English) originally meant a public one; romanticized sense of "traveling as an expression of personal freedom" first recorded 1856, in Whitman.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with unopened


In addition to the idioms beginning with open

  • open and aboveboard
  • open and shut
  • open book
  • open doors
  • open fire
  • open house, keep
  • open mind
  • open one's eyes
  • open one's heart to
  • open one's mouth
  • open question
  • open season on
  • open secret
  • open the door to
  • open up
  • open with

also see:

  • keep a weather eye (open)
  • keep one's eyes open
  • lay open
  • leave open
  • leave the door open
  • not open one's mouth
  • out in the open
  • throw open
  • wide open
  • with one's eyes open
  • with open arms
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.