un·​wind | \ˌən-ˈwīnd \
unwound\ˌən-​ˈwau̇nd \; unwinding

Definition of unwind 

transitive verb

1a : to cause to uncoil : wind off : unroll

b : to free from or as if from a binding or wrapping

c : to release from tension : relax

2 archaic : to trace to the end unwinding the labryinth and bringing the hero out— Laurence Sterne

3 : to undo (a financial arrangement or position) through the necessary legal or financial steps unwound most of its natural gas hedgesThe New York Times

intransitive verb

1 : to become uncoiled or disentangled : unfold

2 : to become released from tension take a bath to unwind

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Synonyms & Antonyms for unwind


chill, chill out [slang], de-stress, decompress, loosen up, mellow (out), relax, wind down


tense (up)

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Examples of unwind in a Sentence

She unwound some thread from the spool. The fishing line unwound quickly. I wanted to unwind after a hard day.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Thanksgiving weekend presents the perfect opportunity to unwind and reflect before the holiday season kicks into high gear. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "9 Perfect Netflix and Face Mask Pairings for Thanksgiving Weekend," 20 Nov. 2018 In recent years Japanese companies have slimmed down bloated balance sheets partly by unwinding cross-shareholdings and returning more cash to shareholders, improving their returns on equity. Jacky Wong, WSJ, "Nissan Blows Abe’s Third Arrow Off Course," 20 Nov. 2018 Tonight: Start unwinding and enjoying your loved ones. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 2 July 2018 Get set to unwind and leave the demands of the day at the door. Lisa Marie Hart, USA TODAY, "Take a fresh approach to updating your entire house," 25 Mar. 2018 As some 1,000 migrants arrived in Tijuana one recent day, border-patrol contractors unwound hundreds of yards of razor wire at the beachside border fence, as armed guards looked on. Robbie Whelan, WSJ, "U.S. Slashes Migrant Border Crossings," 19 Nov. 2018 When things start getting too tightly wound, topoisomerase cuts the DNA strand, unwinds it, and reattaches it with a bit more slack. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "New anti-gonorrhea drug called “metal as f–k”," 15 Nov. 2018 Thanksgiving is just one meal out of so many healthy-eating opportunities—so take the day to relax and unwind, but then get right back on track. Jenna Rosenstein, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Holidays Are Coming—Here's How To Get Back On Track After a Big Meal," 19 Oct. 2018 But over the remainder of the decade, as the Rehnquist Court evolved into the Roberts Court, with its business-friendly interpretation of the First Amendment, this provision was slowly unwound, and ultimately discarded entirely in Citizens United. Mark Schmitt, Vox, "John McCain’s signature campaign finance law was a real achievement — for its time," 26 Aug. 2018

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

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Statistics for unwind

Last Updated

11 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unwind

The first known use of unwind was in the 14th century

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English Language Learners Definition of unwind

: to move the end of something (such as a piece of string) that is wound in a roll, coil, etc., so that it becomes straight

: to relax and stop thinking about work, problems, etc.


un·​wind | \ˌən-ˈwīnd \
unwound\-​ˈwau̇nd \; unwinding

Kids Definition of unwind

1 : to uncoil a strand of I unwound yarn from a ball. The fishing line unwound from the reel.

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More from Merriam-Webster on unwind

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with unwind

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for unwind

Spanish Central: Translation of unwind

Nglish: Translation of unwind for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of unwind for Arabic Speakers

Comments on unwind

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having a pattern of small flowers

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