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

After a long day at the office, downtown workers should soon have a new way to unwind — ax throwing. Kyle Arnold, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Ax-throwing joint coming to downtown Orlando," 10 July 2018 The change won't happen overnight; all of these companies have long-term contracts to unwind. Brian Barrett, WIRED, "Security News This Week: Carriers Stop Selling Location Data in a Rare Privacy Win," 23 June 2018 After the ruling, the FTC and the Whole Foods reached a settlement that required the company to sell off some stores but not unwind the entire transaction. Brent Kendall, WSJ, "AT&T Closes Time Warner Deal, as DOJ Doesn’t Ask for Delay," 14 June 2018 Instead, visitors come here to unwind amid nature by watching puffins and seals, admiring wildflowers, and taking in the white-sand beaches at Shell Beach. Condé Nast Traveler, "Car-Free Destinations for Your Next Island Vacation," 1 June 2018 The two guys aren’t alone for long: Ami and Mizuki soon join because they’re two souls who just can’t unwind without a spot of TV before bed. Mariah Smith, The Cut, "The Second Episode of Terrace House Is a New Experience for Us," 2 Apr. 2018 Adulthood doesn’t guarantee a spring break, but taking time off is necessary for your mental and physical health, and what better way to unwind than by a pool in Palm Springs. Michaela Bechler, Vogue, "Pool Hopping in Palm Springs Has Never Been So Chic," 6 Mar. 2018 The second season of the hit drama is unwinding its mysteries, twists and turns in a thoughtful, logical way rather than attempting to fool the audience, a major improvement over Season 1, which sometimes felt like the writers were trolling fans. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "'Westworld' recap: A return, a reveal and a twist that changes everything in Episode 4," 13 May 2018 Trump has unwound many of those initiatives using his own pen. Bloomberg.com, "Trump’s Governing Just Like Obama With Congress Gridlocked," 3 Apr. 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

18 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for unwind

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

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More Definitions for unwind



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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Comments on unwind

What made you want to look up unwind? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


the setting in which something occurs

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