un·pack | \ ˌən-ˈpak \
unpacked; unpacking; unpacks

Definition of unpack 

transitive verb

1a : to remove the contents of unpack a suitcase

b : unburden, reveal must … unpack my heart with words —William Shakespeare

2 : to remove or undo from packing or a container unpacked his gear

3 : to analyze the nature of by examining in detail : explicate unpack a concept

intransitive verb

: to engage in unpacking a container

Keep scrolling for more

Other words from unpack

unpacker noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for unpack


disburden, discharge, disencumber, off-load, unburden, unlade, unload


load, pack

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of unpack in a Sentence

It's been a year since I moved here and I still haven't unpacked all of my books. I unpacked my suitcase as soon as I arrived home. By the time we got to the hotel, I was too tired to unpack. She's good at unpacking complex concepts.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Jordan Peele’s vision of a white suburban community that tries to ensnare a young black man gave us a lot to unpack. Carl Kelsch, Marie Claire, "The New Horror Film 'Hereditary' Might Be This Year's 'Get Out'," 8 June 2018 After a sip of cold-brew coffee, Jordan was eager to unpack her feelings about it all. Wesley Case, baltimoresun.com, "With debut album 'Lush,' Snail Mail's Lindsey Jordan prepares for rock stardom from her Ellicott City bedroom," 8 June 2018 Steve doesn’t arrive right away which allows Piet and Gladys to gingerly unpack a potent backstory to the upcoming reunion. Marcus Crowder, San Francisco Chronicle, "Athol Fugard’s apartheid drama ‘Lesson From Aloes’ in S.F. just brilliant," 8 June 2018 Not that the Ant-Man movies completely unpack the science. New York Times, "The Science (and the Scientists) Behind ‘Ant-Man’," 6 July 2018 As bowls were chosen by a crowd steadily filing in through the auditorium, Govoni worked to unpack more bowls from boxes lined up on the stage, so that empty spaces could be filled. Melanie Savage, Courant Community, "Empty Bowls Serves Up Food, Community," 23 Apr. 2018 More: Make the most of any bag with these packing hacks Make a Packing List, and Cross Items Off Never unpack unused items again. Sunset, "How to Travel Like a Minimalist," 22 Jan. 2018 In their quest to unpack parrots’ impressive smarts, researchers at the University of Alberta and the University of Lethbridge sourced 98 samples from the University of Lethbridge’s collection of bird brains—one of the largest in the world. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Unique Brain Circuitry Might Explain Why Parrots Are So Smart," 7 July 2018 Here’s where things start to get more difficult to unpack. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Incredibles 2 Is an Exhilarating Ride," 13 June 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about unpack

Dictionary Entries near unpack








Statistics for unpack

Last Updated

28 Aug 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unpack

The first known use of unpack was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for unpack



English Language Learners Definition of unpack

: to take something out of a suitcase, box, etc.

: to make (something) easier to understand by breaking it up into smaller parts that can be examined separately


un·pack | \ ˌən-ˈpak \
unpacked; unpacking

Kids Definition of unpack

1 : to separate and remove things that are packed Will you unpack the groceries?

2 : to open and remove the contents of I unpacked my suitcase.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on unpack

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


a magnificent or impressive array

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Food Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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