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 Hence, no one attends to it, with the inevitable consequence that the sweeping re-articulation of the human unfolds around us in a haphazard, entirely unconscientious way. Tobias Rees, Quartz, "Why tech companies need philosophers—and how I convinced Google to hire them," 22 Nov. 2019 Their wardrobe also underscored the role that these two witnesses play in the drama unfolding on Capitol Hill. Robin Givhan, Washington Post, "Their testimony was pointed. Their clothes were reassuringly dull.," 21 Nov. 2019 The shootings unfolded in the hours after a Bank of America in Des Plaines was robbed by two men around 4:30 p.m. Police said one of the tellers was able to slip an electronic tracker in the bag with the money. Jeremy Gorner, chicagotribune.com, "Lane Tech student ‘stable’ after being caught in gunbattle between police and suspect in music store where he worked," 20 Nov. 2019 So, watching the physical separation of the dynamic duo unfold in vivid CGI on a movie theater screen was completely overwhelming for my daughter. Lacey Vorrasi-banis, EW.com, "What parents should know before taking their kids to see Frozen 2: Opinion," 20 Nov. 2019 As many as four shootings unfolded in the span of just four hours late Saturday night into early Sunday morning in Philadelphia, leaving two people dead, according to reports. Fox News, "4 Philadelphia shootings in 4 hours leave at least 2 dead, reports say," 18 Nov. 2019 After the game, coach Tom Allen confirmed the play unfolded in almost the exact same fashion as the Colts' failed fake. Tyler Kraft, Indianapolis Star, "Twitter reacts to Indiana football's failed fake punt," 16 Nov. 2019 Even as the public recitation of facts unfolded in the hearing room, there were signs that Democrats’ investigation was still expanding. BostonGlobe.com, "WASHINGTON — The House of Representatives opened historic impeachment hearings on Wednesday and took startling new testimony from a senior US diplomat that further implicated President Trump in a campaign to pressure Ukraine to publicly commit to investigating former vice president Joe Biden.," 14 Nov. 2019 Senate Republicans blocked consideration of a gun-violence-prevention bill on Thursday as a school shooting was unfolding in the Los Angeles area. Lucy Diavolo, Teen Vogue, "As Saugus High School Shooting Unfolds, Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith Blocks Consideration of a Background-Check Bill," 14 Nov. 2019

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

2 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Unfold.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unfolding. Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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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More from Merriam-Webster on unfold

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unfold

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unfold

Spanish Central: Translation of unfold

Nglish: Translation of unfold for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unfold for Arabic Speakers

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