• synonyms


[uhn-rav-uh l]
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verb (used with object), un·rav·eled, un·rav·el·ing or (especially British) un·rav·elled, un·rav·el·ling.
  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).
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verb (used without object), un·rav·eled, un·rav·el·ing or (especially British) un·rav·elled, un·rav·el·ling.
  1. to become unraveled.
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Origin of unravel

First recorded in 1595–1605; un-2 + ravel
Related formsun·rav·el·er; especially British, un·rav·el·ler, nounun·rav·el·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for unravelled

Historical Examples

  • Men like the problem that they fancy they have unravelled by their own acuteness.

    The Bramleighs Of Bishop's Folly

    Charles James Lever

  • The Government has unravelled a good deal of the conspiracy.

  • It is a cipher that cannot be unravelled without the key number.

    The Grell Mystery

    Frank Froest

  • “This mystery is unravelled,” thought I, and I was right in my conjectures.

  • I stepped off him, unravelled the lead and dragged him to the Parcels Office.

    Once a Week

    Alan Alexander Milne

British Dictionary definitions for unravelled


verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled
  1. (tr) to reduce (something knitted or woven) to separate strands
  2. (tr) to undo or untangle (something tangled or knotted)
  3. (tr) to explain or solvethe mystery was unravelled
  4. (intr) to become unravelled
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Derived Formsunraveller, noununravelment, 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 unravelled



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper