un·​tan·​gle | \ ˌən-ˈtaŋ-gəl How to pronounce untangle (audio) \
untangled; untangling; untangles

Definition of untangle

transitive verb

: to loose from tangles or entanglement : straighten out untangle a knot untangle a mystery

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Choose the Right Synonym for untangle

extricate, disentangle, untangle, disencumber, disembarrass mean to free from what binds or holds back. extricate implies the use of care or ingenuity in freeing from a difficult position or situation. extricated himself from financial difficulties disentangle and untangle suggest painstaking separation of a thing from other things. disentangling fact from fiction untangle a web of deceit disencumber implies a release from something that clogs or weighs down. an article disencumbered of jargon disembarrass suggests a release from something that impedes or hinders. disembarrassed herself of her advisers

Examples of untangle in a Sentence

She carefully untangled the child's hair. He untangled the garden hose.

Recent Examples on the Web

Multiple observatories previously aimed their eyes at the black hole and tried to untangle the engine behind its jet, studying it in wavelengths spanning the electromagnetic spectrum. National Geographic, "First-ever picture of a black hole unveiled," 10 Apr. 2019 Without agreeing to any wrongdoing, the city will formally untangle itself from Civic San Diego, per the terms of a settlement that will be implemented after City Council members ratify the changes a second time. San Diego Union-Tribune, "It’s official, San Diego’s downtown planning agency is finished," 4 June 2019 The dramatic rise in opioid addiction also can't be overlooked, experts say, though untangling accidental from intentional deaths by overdose can be difficult. The Washington Post, OregonLive.com, "Surge in US suicides sparks fear of a public health crisis," 7 June 2018 Since its premiere in 2014, HBO’s True Detective has been a source of contention, which has as much to do with untangling the mystery at the center of each season as trying to discern whether the show is good or not. Karen Han, Vox, "True Detective season 3 premieres January 13. Here’s everything we know so far.," 12 Oct. 2018 There are also plenty of questions about how the technique works, which will be untangled only as a broader community of researchers begins to study the approach in more patients. Carolyn Y. Johnson, The Seattle Times, "Paralyzed people are beginning to walk with a new kind of therapy," 24 Sep. 2018 Nate Ver Hague untangled the snake’s tail from the engine as Officer Mark Vencak carefully pulled it from the vehicle, officials said. Fox News, "New York man trying to jump-start car gets a venomous surprise," 22 June 2018 What follows is an attempt to untangle the mess of accusations and counteraccusations: to try to explain what’s true about Salazar’s self-portrayal, what’s false, and what can’t be proven — as well as the reasons any of this matters. Zack Beauchamp, Vox, "Julia Salazar, the socialist politician accused of lying about her past, explained," 7 Sep. 2018 The contradicting research refuses to yield concrete answers and the data are harder to untangle than a thousand earbuds. Jessica Wapner, SELF, "How Worried Do You Really Need to Be About Your Screen Time?," 7 Feb. 2019

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

1550, in the meaning defined above

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Statistics for untangle

Last Updated

11 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for untangle

The first known use of untangle was in 1550

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More Definitions for untangle



English Language Learners Definition of untangle

: to separate (things that are twisted together) : to remove the twists or knots in (something)


un·​tan·​gle | \ ˌən-ˈtaŋ-gəl How to pronounce untangle (audio) \
untangled; untangling

Kids Definition of untangle

1 : to remove a tangle from
2 : to straighten out You need to untangle your money situation.

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More from Merriam-Webster on untangle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with untangle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for untangle

Spanish Central: Translation of untangle

Nglish: Translation of untangle for Spanish Speakers

Comments on untangle

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


to form ideas or theories about something

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