un·​fold | \ˌən-ˈfōld \
unfolded; unfolding; unfolds

Definition of unfold 

transitive verb

1a : to open the folds of : spread or straighten out : expand unfolded the map

b : to remove (something, such as a package) from the folds : unwrap

2 : to open to the view : reveal especially : to make clear by gradual disclosure and often by recital

intransitive verb

1a : to open from a folded state : open out : expand

b : blossom

2 : develop, evolve as the story unfolds

3 : to open out gradually to the view or understanding : become known a panorama unfolds before their eyes

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Other Words from unfold

unfoldment \ ˌən-​ˈfōl(d)-​mənt \ noun

Examples of unfold in a Sentence

The couch unfolds to form a bed. We'll have more news as events unfold. We watched the drama unfold on live television. As the story unfolds, we learn that the boy became an orphan when he was one year old.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The events unfolded in the 10800 block of Greencreek, near Jones Road, around 8:20 p.m. Samantha Ketterer, Houston Chronicle, "Reports: Man dead in shooting in Willowbrook area," 6 July 2018 On the heels of the Build-A-Bear 'pay your child's age' fiasco that unfolded Thursday, Chuck E. Cheese has responded with its own version of the discount. Elissa Robinson, Detroit Free Press, "Chuck E. Cheese offers 'pay your age' day: What to know," 13 July 2018 Jacqueline Kennedy was well-prepared for her trip to Dallas in 1963, save for the fact that nothing could have prepared her for the events that unfolded during that fateful visit. Melissa Locker, Southern Living, "Jackie Kennedy's Never-Before-Seen Packing List for That Tragic Trip to Texas," 10 July 2018 And the story that unfolded has amused thousands of people on social media. Christina Capatides, CBS News, "Dogs steal mail carrier's lunch, then their apology note goes viral," 6 July 2018 North Carolina’s lovingly shot Pleasure Island and adjacent Cape Fear River provide the stirring, Southern Gothic setting for this impressionistic film that unfolds around the 18th birthday of its rudderless main character, Moss (Mitchell Slaggert). Gary Goldstein, latimes.com, "Review: Southern drama 'Moss' underwhelms, but it has great views," 5 July 2018 Kingsley recently recounted the events that unfolded in her life on that tragic afternoon and evening 25 years ago. Rachel Swan, SFChronicle.com, "Woman recalls death of husband on 25th anniversary of SF mass shooting," 1 July 2018 This was something that unfolded in the open and over time. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "Capital Gazette shooting suspect Jarrod Ramos remembered as 'loner' obsessed with reputation," 29 June 2018 That thrifty repurposing may explain the swift transitions that have unfolded in Ratcliff 's lab. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "The momentous transition to multicellular life may not have been so hard after all," 28 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'unfold.' 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 unfold

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Statistics for unfold

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unfold

The first known use of unfold was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for unfold



English Language Learners Definition of unfold

: to spread or cause (something) to spread or straighten out from a folded position

: to happen as time passes

: to be told or made known


un·​fold | \ˌən-ˈfōld \
unfolded; unfolding

Kids Definition of unfold

1 : to open the folds of : open up Carefully unfold the map.

2 : to lay open to view or understanding : reveal … Roscuro went on unfolding, step by step, his diabolical plan …— Kate DiCamillo, The Tale of Despereaux

3 : to develop gradually We learn the secret as the story unfolds.

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Comments on unfold

What made you want to look up unfold? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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