dis·​en·​tan·​gle ˌdis-in-ˈtaŋ-gəl How to pronounce disentangle (audio)
disentangled; disentangling; disentangles

transitive verb

: to free from entanglement : unravel
disentanglement noun
Choose the Right Synonym for disentangle

extricate, disentangle, untangle, disencumber, disembarrass mean to free from what binds or holds back.

extricate implies the use of care or ingenuity in freeing from a difficult position or situation.

extricated himself from financial difficulties

disentangle and untangle suggest painstaking separation of a thing from other things.

disentangling fact from fiction
untangle a web of deceit

disencumber implies a release from something that clogs or weighs down.

an article disencumbered of jargon

disembarrass suggests a release from something that impedes or hinders.

disembarrassed herself of her advisers

Examples of disentangle in a Sentence

it took forever to disentangle the knot the years that it took to disentangle ourselves from our troubles after someone started using our social security numbers
Recent Examples on the Web First, university leaders must speak with moral clarity to help their pro-Palestinian students disentangle themselves from the evil of Hamas and foster more productive conversations on their campuses. WSJ, 12 Nov. 2023 But Coppola, never one to fall back on easy, moralizing judgments — nor to disentangle sadness from joy, its natural companion — doesn’t deny or condemn that mirage’s seductive power. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, 27 Oct. 2023 Over the next three months during intensive therapy sessions Karen began to disentangle the way anorexia had become her security, her way of coping with the world. Seth Abramovitch, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 Oct. 2023 Officials cannot easily disentangle trade and commerce from security when U.S. markets are intertwined with those of adversaries, consumer electronics are readily weaponized, and beefed-up graphics chips are the engines of military artificial intelligence. Henry Farrell, Foreign Affairs, 19 Oct. 2023 Concerns about crime can be hard to disentangle from anxieties related to food insecurity, housing insecurity, climate and mental health, said Monique Alvarado, who lives in Glassell Park and works as a social worker. Libor Jany, Los Angeles Times, 12 Oct. 2023 But opponents of the Ukrainian assistance programs have argued that the United States must disentangle itself from a faraway war and instead focus the government’s attention and money on problems closer to home. Karoun Demirjian, New York Times, 11 Sep. 2023 Catching the light from that first cosmic sunrise, and the dark even before that dawn, is so tricky that Chiang and her colleagues must go to the ends of the Earth to have even a hope of disentangling their signals from the rest of the cluttered cosmos. Sarah Scoles, Quanta Magazine, 20 Sep. 2023 All the same, such language does need to give way, at a certain point, to the sustained work of more systematically disentangling the urban form of Western cities from their colonial and imperial roots. Christopher Hawthorne, The New Yorker, 12 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'disentangle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1598, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

Time Traveler
The first known use of disentangle was in 1598

Dictionary Entries Near disentangle

Cite this Entry

“Disentangle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/disentangle. Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


dis·​en·​tan·​gle ˌdis-ᵊn-ˈtaŋ-gəl How to pronounce disentangle (audio)
: to straighten out : untangle
disentanglement noun

More from Merriam-Webster on disentangle

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