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

transitive verb

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

Example Sentences

She carefully untangled the child's hair. He untangled the garden hose.
Recent Examples on the Web More paperwork will likely lead to more errors by taxpayers and the IRS that take time to untangle, says Shehan Chandrasekera, head of tax strategy at CoinTracker, a provider of crypto tax-filing software. Laura Saunders, WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 There must be some companies that have tried to untangle it, right, to train people to give it better, or to create new templates. Quartz Staff, Quartz, 13 Oct. 2022 Teammates took several minutes to untangle them as the referees called a pair of technical fouls. Julia Poe, Chicago Tribune, 28 Aug. 2022 And yet, from the very beginning, at least outside the jury room, there was no way to untangle the swirl of political and social issues surrounding the Rittenhouse trial. Bill Glauber, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 21 Nov. 2021 But the fault lines were idiosyncratic and difficult to untangle from old resentments. Zach Helfand, The New Yorker, 17 Oct. 2022 Her flitting ideas for stories merge with her frustrations, a Gordian knot of aspirational angst that only Saunders could untangle. Hamilton Cain, BostonGlobe.com, 13 Oct. 2022 Russonello poses Chuck Brown as an example: In his music, the threads of go-go are impossible to untangle from inspirations including Jimmy Reed’s blues guitar, Duke Ellington’s jazz orchestration, James Brown’s funk and Barry White’s soul. Chris Kelly, Washington Post, 21 Sep. 2022 Others simply stared at it and tried to untangle the words. Elissa Miolene, San Francisco Chronicle, 21 Aug. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

First Known Use

1550, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of untangle was in 1550

Dictionary Entries Near untangle

Cite this Entry

“Untangle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/untangle. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



un·​tan·​gle ˌən-ˈtaŋ-gəl How to pronounce untangle (audio)
: to remove a tangle from : disentangle
untangle a knot
: to straighten out : resolve
untangle a mystery

More from Merriam-Webster on untangle

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