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From Middle English unlosen, equivalent to un- +‎ loose.


unloose (third-person singular simple present unlooses, present participle unloosing, simple past and past participle unloosed)

  1. (transitive) To free (someone or something) from a constraint.
    • c. 1590, William Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2, Act V, Scene 1,[1]
      Then, York, unloose thy long-imprison’d thoughts
      And let thy tongue be equal with thy heart.
    • 1717, Laurence Eusden (translator), “The Story of Pyramus and Thisbe” in John Dryden (editor), Ovid’s Metamorphoses in Fifteen Books. Translated by the most Eminent Hands, London: Jacob Tonson, p. 109,[2]
      Thus did the melancholy Tale conclude,
      And a short, silent Interval ensu’d.
      The next in Birth unloos’d her artful Tongue,
      And drew attentive all the Sister-Throng.
    • 1827, Nathaniel Parker Willis, “Extract from a Poem delivered at the departure of the senior class of Yale College, in 1826” in Sketches, Boston: S. G. Goodrich, p. 92,[3]
      Press on! for it is godlike to unloose
      The spirit, and forget yourself in thought;
    • 1953, James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain, New York: Dell, 1970, Part Three, p. 216,[4]
      He would weep again, his heart insisted, for now his weeping had begun; he would rage again, said the shifting air, for the lions of rage had been unloosed; he would be in darkness again, in fire again, now that he had seen the fire and the darkness.
  2. (transitive) To undo or loosen something that fastens, holds, entangles, or interlocks.
    • c. 1598, William Shakespeare, Henry V, Act I, Scene 1,[5]
      The Gordian knot of it he will unloose,
      Familiar as his garter:
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Mark 1:7,[6]
      There cometh one mightier than I after me, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to stoop down and unloose.
    • 1762, Laurence Sterne, The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, London: T. Becket & P.A. Dehondt, Volume 5, Chapter 3, p. 34,[7]
      Death opens the gate of fame, and shuts the gate of envy after it,—it unlooses the chain of the captive, and puts the bondsman’s task into another man’s hands.
    • 1900, Bret Harte, “A Niece of Snapshot Harry’s” in From Sand Hill to Pine, Boston: Houghton Mifflin, p. 64,[8]
      Forgetting his disgust, Brice tore away the shirt and unloosed the belt.