un·​tan·​gle | \ˌən-ˈtaŋ-gəl \
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

Those relationships don’t untangle easily — and are usually legally required to be kept secret. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "Why Silicon Valley investors just can’t quit Saudi money," 25 Oct. 2018 Chirinos pushed Kemp as the two man untangled themselves. Andy Mccullough, latimes.com, "Matt Kemp ejected in Dodgers' 3-2 extra-inning win over the Rangers," 14 June 2018 The overlap between these afflictions is hard to untangle; diagnosis and treatment can be very difficult. BostonGlobe.com, "Raising Connor," 5 May 2018 During the Industrial Revolution, England built workhouses where the destitute broke stones and untangled rope in return for food and a bed. The Economist, "The welfare state needs updating," 12 July 2018 Reckoning with the responsibilities of new parenthood, untangling a brief liaison that became a lifelong bond — these are the sorts of subjects that would ordinarily animate great Drake music. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "For the First Time, Drake Runs From His Feelings," 2 July 2018 There are sporting, aesthetic, and even moral distinctions to untangle. Kanishk Tharoor, The Atlantic, "The Elusive Underdog Magic of the World Cup," 14 July 2018 Officials may first have to untangle all the conflicting laws on the books that have been passed since 1973. Lauren Castle, azcentral, "Arizona still has a law banning abortion on the books," 7 July 2018 While this bought the man enough time to begin untangling the leash, the bear came back and bit the dog. Jason Duaine Hahn, PEOPLE.com, "Man Fights Off Bear With His Bare Hands to Save His Beloved Pet Beagle," 31 May 2018

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

14 Nov 2018

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 \
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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