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

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 At Cook Hill Elementary School in Wallingford, a man who gave his name only as Tony watched utility workers try to untangle wires from a pickup — his granddaughter’s — that had been impaled by a light post. Matthew Ormseth, courant.com, "Connecticut Sifts Through Wreckage From Two Tornadoes, Macroburst," 17 May 2018 More court intervention will likely be required to untangle this mess. Jon Chesto, BostonGlobe.com, "Redstone wins a round in CBS fight, but battle continues," 17 May 2018 On one rebound battle on the Pels offensive end, Green threw Davis to the floor and then the two rolled over several times trying to untangle themselves. Ron Higgins, NOLA.com, "Pelicans do everything in game 2 loss to Warriors except get some favorable calls," 2 May 2018 Ahead, a timeline to help untangle the bizarre real-life events that inspired A Very English Scandal. Julie Miller, HWD, "The Secret, Real-Life Love Affair Behind A Very English Scandal," 1 July 2018 In May, an appeals court rejected Kesha's attempt to extract herself from her recording contract with Luke, the latest setback in the singer's bid to untangle herself from a professional relationship with Luke. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, "Kesha Accused Dr. Luke of Raping Katy Perry in Text Message to Lady Gaga, Which Producer Calls 'Baseless & Irresponsible'," 13 June 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

19 Sep 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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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).


occurring twice a year or every two years

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