rav·​el | \ ˈra-vəl How to pronounce ravel (audio) \
raveled or ravelled; raveling or ravelling\ ˈrav-​liŋ How to pronounce ravel (audio) , ˈra-​və-​ \

Definition of ravel

 (Entry 1 of 3)

intransitive verb

1 : to become unwoven, untwisted, or unwound : fray
3 obsolete : to become entangled or confused

transitive verb

1a : to separate or undo the texture of : unravel
b : to undo the intricacies of : disentangle



Definition of ravel (Entry 2 of 3)

: an act or result of raveling: such as
a : something tangled
b : something raveled out specifically : a loose thread


biographical name
Ra·​vel | \ rə-ˈvel How to pronounce Ravel (audio) , ra- \

Definition of Ravel (Entry 3 of 3)

(Joseph) Mau*rice \ mȯ-​ˈrēs How to pronounce Ravel (audio) \ 1875–1937 French composer

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Other Words from ravel


raveler \ ˈrav-​lər How to pronounce Ravel (audio) , ˈra-​və-​ \ noun
ravelment \ ˈra-​vəl-​mənt How to pronounce Ravel (audio) \ noun

Biographical name

Ravelian \ rə-​ˈve-​lyən How to pronounce Ravel (audio) , ra-​ , -​lē-​ən \ adjective

Examples of ravel in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb So somehow, Grace, Sacha and Robert end up accompanying Art and Charlotte to Norfolk, and all of their stories unravel and ravel at once. Ellen Akins, Washington Post, "Ali Smith’s ‘Summer’ concludes her seasonal quartet on a high note," 14 Aug. 2020 Her eight novels, including the 2016 bestseller Commonwealth, tend to focus on families or groups raveling and unraveling over decades. Kaitlin Menza, Condé Nast Traveler, "How I Travel: Why Ann Patchett Is Her “Best Spiritual Self in an Airport”," 27 Sep. 2019 Now, with many New Yorkers complaining that life in New York is raveling under Mr. Bloomberg’s progressive successor, Bill de Blasio, a top Bloomberg lieutenant is telling his version of how the city was revitalized. Edward Kosner, WSJ, "The Gotham Growth Spurt," 11 Sep. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ravel.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of ravel


circa 1540, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1634, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for ravel


Dutch rafelen, from rafel loose thread

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Time Traveler for ravel

Time Traveler

The first known use of ravel was circa 1540

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Cite this Entry

“Ravel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ravel. Accessed 18 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for ravel



English Language Learners Definition of ravel

formal + literary : to become divided into separate threads


rav·​el | \ ˈra-vəl How to pronounce ravel (audio) \
raveled or ravelled; raveling or ravelling

Kids Definition of ravel

: unravel sense 1 We raveled the net for fishing.

More from Merriam-Webster on ravel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ravel

Nglish: Translation of ravel for Spanish Speakers

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