un·​rav·​el ˌən-ˈra-vəl How to pronounce unravel (audio)
unraveled; unraveling; unravels

transitive verb

: to disengage or separate the threads of : disentangle
: to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of
: to resolve the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of : clear up
unravel a mystery

Examples of unravel in a Sentence

Scientists are still unraveling the secrets of DNA. Their plans unraveled when she lost her job. His frequent absences from home caused his marriage to unravel. I feel like my life is unraveling.
Recent Examples on the Web The Aztecs easily could have unraveled in Corvallis under the strain of a big crowd and a solid team. Bryce Miller, San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Sep. 2023 But, as has happened in every start since that one in Toronto, Flaherty unraveled, allowing two runs in a 32-pitch fourth and the first two batters of the fifth to reach. Jacob Calvin Meyer, Baltimore Sun, 16 Sep. 2023 Cowboys 23, Jets 10 Kevin Sherrington Even before Aaron Rodgers’ left leg unraveled Monday, the Cowboys stood a pretty good chance of winning this game. Sportsday Staff, Dallas News, 15 Sep. 2023 Things started to unravel after that for Arkansas State. Mike Harley, Arkansas Online, 10 Sep. 2023 China has in particular relied a great deal on investment in the real-estate sector, so the property market is now beginning to unravel a little bit because there was a lot of speculative activity in that market. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 7 Sep. 2023 As the days go by, the strange events and increasingly disturbing situations that torment her will eventually lead her to unravel the terrible skein of secrets that surround the convent and haunt its inhabitants. Michaela Zee, Variety, 30 Aug. 2023 As his problems with addiction worsened in recent years, Hunter’s life unraveled. Katie Rogers, New York Times, 10 Sep. 2023 Geneva For nearly 70 years, scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) have been unraveling the mysteries of subatomic particles, which are the building blocks of matter and energy. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 6 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'unravel.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1603, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of unravel was in 1603

Dictionary Entries Near unravel

Cite this Entry

“Unravel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unravel. Accessed 30 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


un·​rav·​el ˌən-ˈrav-əl How to pronounce unravel (audio)
: to separate the threads of : disentangle
unravel a snarl
: solve
unravel a mystery
: to become unraveled

More from Merriam-Webster on unravel

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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