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 But where most war games are grounded in conflict, few spare the time to untangle the many other facets of war. Jack Yarwood, Washington Post, "Can video games tactfully handle Nazism and its aftermath? These Czech historians say yes.," 6 July 2020 Nyles shrugs at her attempts to untangle the cosmic knot containing them forever poolside in the Coachella Valley. Kate Knibbs, Wired, "Palm Springs Is a Timely Comedy About Being Stuck in the Now," 9 July 2020 Tall and sunburned in a flannel shirt and too-long canvas work pants, Buma is in high spirits—a detective off to untangle a new mystery. Craig Welch, National Geographic, "The tree at the bottom of the world—and the wind-blasted trek to find it," 7 July 2020 Why this is depends on a complex mix of biology and behavior that can be difficult to untangle. Katie Hunt, CNN, "How female scientists are losing out during the pandemic and why it matters," 18 June 2020 Donna Montgomery helps her daughter Kenna Allen untangle a necklace with a locket containing ashes of her baby, Treasure. Samantha Schmidt, Washington Post, "Her pregnancy was already high risk. Then she gave birth on a ventilator.," 10 June 2020 As events tumble atop each other in the days and weeks ahead, know that historians will attempt to untangle and unravel them. David Guttenfelder, National Geographic, "See the Full Archive," 1 June 2020 For decades, scientists have suspected the rules governing these knots could offer clues for untangling turbulence — one of the last great unknowns of classical physics — but any order exhibited by the knots was lost in the surrounding chaos. Quanta Magazine, "Could Knots Unravel Mysteries of Fluid Flow?," 9 Dec. 2013 Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Washington Post, "How Blacklisting Companies Became a Trade War Weapon," 3 Dec. 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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Time Traveler for untangle

Time Traveler

The first known use of untangle was in 1550

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Statistics for untangle

Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Untangle.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/untangle. Accessed 6 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for untangle


How to pronounce untangle (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for untangle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with untangle

Spanish Central: Translation of untangle

Nglish: Translation of untangle for Spanish Speakers

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