un·​fold | \ ˌən-ˈfōld How to pronounce unfold (audio) \
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
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 How to pronounce unfoldment (audio) \ 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 Regardless of how events unfold in the months to come, the fact remains that a majority of people in our society hold deep fear about the future. Shauna Springer, CNN, "How to overcome the trauma of a divided nation," 11 Nov. 2020 But the new rules, combined with uncertainty over the Covid-19 pandemic and legal issues over mail-in voting, paint an uncertain picture of how the week could unfold. NBC News, "It's showtime: How to watch the election results," 3 Nov. 2020 With creativity and vision, Luisi played a key part in deciding how the 2020–21 season should unfold in light of the virus. Nicole Cormier, Dallas News, "The Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s new music director, Fabio Luisi, conducts a season like none other," 30 Sep. 2020 Ketel Marte had been looking forward to sticking at one position, second base, but Lovullo said Marte was team-oriented when the two spoke about how the rest of the season could unfold. Nick Piecoro, The Arizona Republic, "Deadline moves create openings for young players," 2 Sep. 2020 How the interior offensive line would unfold was a top story line heading into training camp. Daniel Oyefusi, baltimoresun.com, "Final Ravens 53-man roster projection: 2019 draft pick gets cut, undrafted rookie streak continues," 31 Aug. 2020 People chanted, cheered and stood around to see what might unfold. oregonlive, "Portland’s 66th day of protests already underway with march in N. Portland," 1 Aug. 2020 Violence can lead to more violence When people are not held quickly accountable for shootings or homicides, retaliation can become more likely and more violence can unfold. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Why are homicides nearing a record high in Milwaukee this year? Here are some theories.," 30 Oct. 2020 But the production line and distribution of the vaccine will likely unfold over much of 2021, which means these playoff games look, sound and feel to paying customers for at least another season. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "'You have to start somewhere': Playoff plan provides a path for MLB to have fans in 2021," 21 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for unfold

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for unfold

Last Updated

13 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unfold.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unfold. Accessed 24 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for unfold


How to pronounce unfold (audio)

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 How to pronounce unfold (audio) \
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

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