verb (used with object)

to undo or remove the contents from (a box, trunk, etc.).
to remove (something) from a container, suitcase, etc.
to unburden, as the mind; reveal.
to decipher or discern (the meaning of symbols, statements, etc.): Each statement could be unpacked in the general theory.
to remove a pack or load from (a horse, vehicle, etc.).

verb (used without object)

to remove the contents of a container.

Origin of unpack

First recorded in 1425–75, unpack is from the late Middle English word unpakken. See un-2, pack1
Related formsun·pack·er, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for unpack

Contemporary Examples of unpack

Historical Examples of unpack

  • Unpack the battery, keeping the packing case right side up to avoid spilling electrolyte.

  • She went upstairs to her own room, meaning to unpack and arrange her borrowed books.

    Wives and Daughters

    Elizabeth Cleghorn Gaskell

  • Gladys and Roger were very happy with some of their toys, which they had been allowed to unpack in the dining-room.

    Two Little Waifs

    Mrs. Molesworth

  • With that he addressed a word to his comrades, and they repaired to a cedar-tree near-by, where they began to unsaddle and unpack.

  • Then unpack the tent and fit the pegs of the two upright poles through the two holes in the ridge pole.

    Outdoor Sports and Games

    Claude H. Miller

British Dictionary definitions for unpack



to remove the packed contents of (a case, trunk, etc)
(tr) to take (something) out of a packed container
(tr) to remove a pack from; unloadto unpack a mule
(tr) to explain (a question, issue, etc) by analysing its component parts
Derived Formsunpacker, 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 unpack

late 15c., from un- (2) + pack (v.). Cf. Dutch ontpakken. Related: Unpacked; unpacking.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper