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
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

Other Words from unfold

unfoldment \ ˌən-​ˈfōl(d)-​mənt How to pronounce unfold (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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web At least 31 people died trying to reach British shores Wednesday in one of the worst disasters involving migrant crossings to unfold on the English Channel between France and the U.K. NBC News, 24 Nov. 2021 Angela O’Boyle witnessed the horror unfold from her apartment balcony. Bradford Betz, Fox News, 23 Nov. 2021 The full scope of tragedy in Waukesha continued to unfold Monday morning, as authorities confirmed five people had been killed and more than 40 others injured after a driver sped through the annual holiday parade Sunday evening. Ashley Luthern, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 22 Nov. 2021 A day later, the couple watches helplessly as the early stages of World War II start to unfold as Japan invades Hong Kong. Jennifer Nalewicki, Smithsonian Magazine, 18 Nov. 2021 Oklahoma's playoff odds took a potentially fatal blow with the loss to Baylor, though enough chaos could unfold in the next three weeks to get the Sooners into the top four at 13-1 and atop the Big 12. Paul Myerberg, USA TODAY, 15 Nov. 2021 Apple has patched the various bugs that allowed the campaign to unfold. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, 11 Nov. 2021 The Taurid meteor shower took place at the beginning of the month, while the partial lunar eclipse will unfold over the North American sky on Nov. 19. Skyler Caruso, PEOPLE.com, 11 Nov. 2021 Another reason to sell is if something in the story fails to unfold as expected, or the story changes, or fundamentals deteriorate—for instance, a cyclical’s inventories start to build, or a smaller firm enters a new growth stage. Charles Rotblut, Forbes, 10 Nov. 2021

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.

See More

First Known Use of unfold

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

Learn More About unfold

Time Traveler for unfold

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near unfold




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for unfold

Last Updated

26 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Unfold.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unfold. Accessed 27 Nov. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on unfold

Nglish: Translation of unfold for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unfold for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!