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

Definition of unravel

transitive verb

1a : to disengage or separate the threads of : disentangle
b : to cause to come apart by or as if by separating the threads of
2 : to resolve the intricacy, complexity, or obscurity of : clear up unravel a mystery

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web But as the situation continues to unravel, with many schools, restaurants, cafes and bars closing, questions about best practices have arisen, including how many people should. Ella Torres, ABC News, "What to know about social distancing strategies amid coronavirus outbreak," 19 Mar. 2020 A week later, international markets are in turmoil with a recession looking almost assured, the Afghan deal is unraveling, and Joe Biden — the candidate Trump most fears — looks increasingly likely to secure the Democratic nomination. Jonah Goldberg, National Review, "Coronavirus Appears to Be Immune to Trump’s Powers," 11 Mar. 2020 The impeachment hoax continues to unravel, day by day, minute by minute. #DemsGotNothing. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "After Gordon Sondland’s Impeachment Testimony: What Will the Republicans Do Now?," 21 Nov. 2019 All this plays out as the disagreement over Iran's nuclear program continues to unravel. Alexander Smith, NBC News, "U.S. plans coalition to counter alleged Iranian sabotage in the Gulf," 10 July 2019 Investigation continues On Tuesday, investigators continued to unravel what led Brian Clyde to open fire on the courthouse. Jennifer Emily, Dallas News, "As gunman took aim at Dallas' federal courthouse, agents 'sprung into action'," 18 June 2019 But Wall Street, which had been holding steady on Tuesday morning, seemed to unravel, perhaps on fears of the potential depth of the economic crisis. Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press, "Federal Reserve delivers surprise interest rate cut amid coronavirus scare," 3 Mar. 2020 Players unravelled a plot concerning the imaginary founder of the Jejune Institute, its organized dissidents, and the whereabouts of a charmed young woman with the aura of a benevolent rebel princess. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "On AMC’s “Dispatches from Elsewhere,” Jason Segel Plays with Convoluted Ways of Telling Straight Stories," 28 Feb. 2020 The show would unravel the mysteries of their troubled pasts and follow Marion and Sky through the highs and lows of rebuilding their lives and the love that binds them together -- all set to genre-blending musical numbers. Rick Porter, Billboard, "Florida Georgia Line's Brian Kelley, Lee Daniels Team for ABC Drama," 21 Dec. 2019

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

1603, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Time Traveler for unravel

Time Traveler

The first known use of unravel was in 1603

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Statistics for unravel

Last Updated

26 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Unravel.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/unravel. Accessed 6 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for unravel


How to pronounce unravel (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of unravel

: to cause the separate threads of something to come apart
: to find the correct explanation for (something that is difficult to understand)
: to fail or begin to fail


un·​rav·​el | \ ˌən-ˈra-vəl How to pronounce unravel (audio) \
unraveled or unravelled; unraveling or unravelling

Kids Definition of unravel

1 : to separate the threads of : untangle
2 : solve She unraveled the mystery.

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More from Merriam-Webster on unravel

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unravel

Spanish Central: Translation of unravel

Nglish: Translation of unravel for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unravel for Arabic Speakers

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