[uhn-rav-uh l]

verb (used with object), un·rav·eled, un·rav·el·ing or (especially British) un·rav·elled, un·rav·el·ling.

to separate or disentangle the threads of (a woven or knitted fabric, a rope, etc.).
to free from complication or difficulty; make plain or clear; solve: to unravel a situation; to unravel a mystery.
Informal. to take apart; undo; destroy (a plan, agreement, or arrangement).

verb (used without object), un·rav·eled, un·rav·el·ing or (especially British) un·rav·elled, un·rav·el·ling.

to become unraveled.

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. 2019

Examples from the Web for unravelling

Contemporary Examples of unravelling

Historical Examples of unravelling

  • Perhaps I might have served in unravelling this unhappy tangle of misunderstandings.

    In the Valley

    Harold Frederic

  • The unravelling of the trails in the swamp was an easy task for their keen noses.

    The House in the Water

    Charles G. D. Roberts

  • "I will cut it, which will be easier than unravelling it," Raoul replied.

  • Who has not heard of you, and your skill in the unravelling of crime?

    The Shrieking Pit

    Arthur J. Rees

  • Let those who like it, lend their labour to the unravelling the secrets of the mythologies.

British Dictionary definitions for unravelling


verb -els, -elling or -elled or US -els, -eling or -eled

(tr) to reduce (something knitted or woven) to separate strands
(tr) to undo or untangle (something tangled or knotted)
(tr) to explain or solvethe mystery was unravelled
(intr) to become unravelled
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 unravelling



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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper