Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To separate the fibers or threads of (cloth, for example); unravel.
  • intransitive verb To clarify by separating the aspects of.
  • intransitive verb To tangle or complicate.
  • intransitive verb To become separated into its component threads; unravel or fray.
  • intransitive verb To become tangled or confused.
  • noun A raveling.
  • noun A broken or discarded thread.
  • noun A tangle.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Same as rabble.
  • noun A raveled thread; a raveling.
  • noun plural The broken threads cast away by women at their needlework.
  • noun In weaving, a serrated instrument for guiding the separate yarns when being distributed and wound upon the yarn-beam of a loom, or for guiding the yarns wound on a balloon; an evener; a separator.
  • noun Also, in Scotch spelling, raivel.
  • To tangle; entangle; entwine confusedly; involve in a tangled or knotted mass, as thread or hair mingled together loosely.
  • Hence To involve; perplex; confuse.
  • To treat confusedly; jumble; muddle.
  • To disentangle; disengage the threads or fibers of (a woven or knitted fabric, a rope, a mass of tangled hair, etc.); draw apart thread by thread; unravel: commonly with out: in this sense (the exact contrary of the first sense), originally with out, ravel out being equivalent to unravel.
  • To become entangled or snarled, as the ends of loose and dangling threads, or a mass of loose hair.
  • Hence To become involved or confused; fall into perplexity.
  • To curl up, as a hard-twisted thread.
  • To become untwisted or disjoined, as the outer threads of a loosely made fabric or the strands of a rope; become disjoined thread by thread; fray, as a garment at the edges: commonly with out.
  • Hence To suffer gradual disintegration or decay.
  • To make a minute and careful examination in order to straighten what is confused, unfold what is hidden, or clear up what is obscure; investigate; search; explore.
  • noun A snarl; a complication.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To become untwisted or unwoven; to be disentangled; to be relieved of intricacy.
  • intransitive verb obsolete To fall into perplexity and confusion.
  • intransitive verb obsolete To make investigation or search, as by picking out the threads of a woven pattern.
  • transitive verb To separate or undo the texture of; to unravel; to take apart; to untwist; to unweave or unknit; -- often followed by out
  • transitive verb To undo the intricacies of; to disentangle.
  • transitive verb To pull apart, as the threads of a texture, and let them fall into a tangled mass; hence, to entangle; to make intricate; to involve.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun a snarl, complication
  • verb to tangle; entangle; entwine confusedly, become snarled; thus to involve; perplex; confuse
  • verb To make a minute and careful examination in order to straighten what is confused, unfold what is hidden, or clear up, clarify what is obscure; investigate; search; explore
  • verb To pull apart (especially cloth or a seam); unravel
  • verb computing, programming In the APL language, to reshape (a variable) into a vector.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb disentangle
  • noun a row of unravelled stitches
  • noun French composer and exponent of Impressionism (1875-1937)
  • verb tangle or complicate

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Obsolete Dutch ravelen, from ravel, loose thread.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Dutch ravelen ("to tangle, fray out, unweave"), from Dutch rafel ("frayed thread")

Examples

  • This attachment is also called a ravel or raivel; and folk-names for it (not in the dictionary) were wrathe and rake; the latter a very good descriptive title.

    Home Life in Colonial Days

  • Even if you are not a fan of big breasts wielded by tiny, multilingual women, my feeling about you is that you will appreciate their dusky fleshiness and call your ravel agent, as they say in Italy, pronto.

    Fleshbot

  • The surgeon thrust in his hand and fumbled about for some time, while I wondered whether the feel of that one brown thread could be detected from the rest of the ravel.

    Chapter 19

  • The surgeon thrust in his hand and fumbled about for some time, while I wondered whether the feel of that one brown thread could be detected from the rest of the ravel.

    Chapter 19

  • In the ravel of one of these pieces was a bit of brown thread.

    Chapter 19

  • The partisans assured us that it was quite safe to ravel along the edge of the valley, although I did not like the idea as now our chances of getting through looked fairly sound and thought a little extra caution at this stage would pay.

    Walter (Bill) Gossner

  • In the ravel of one of these pieces was a bit of brown thread.

    Chapter 19

  • I came up with the idea of cutting those towels in half and hemming the raw edges so that they didn't ravel.

    Hints From Heloise

  • I came up with the idea of cutting those towels in half and hemming the raw edges so that they didn't ravel.

    Hints From Heloise: A travel tip, and a call for more

  • With teh prices of ravel, hunting, this will be my lst trip west unless a rich uncle leaves me a ton.

    A Sorrowful Tale of High Velocity

Comments

New comments are temporarily disabled while we update our database.

  • Contronymic in the sense: unravel vs. tangle, complicate.

    January 31, 2007

  • And time will close about me, and my soul stir to the rhythm of the daily round.

    Yet, having known, life will not press so close, and always I shall feel time

    ravel thin about me;

    For once I stood

    In the white windy presence of eternity.

    - Eunice Tietjens, 'The Most-Sacred Mountain'.

    October 4, 2008

  • The savannah valley is shadeless, spotted only with the thorny ravel of mesquite bushes.

    - D.H. Lawrence, Walk to Huayapa, from Mornings in Mexico, 1927

    October 5, 2008

  • revel in ravel

    March 30, 2012