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The senses, opposites in meaning, are from un- (reverse, undo) +‎ thaw (melt) and un- (release, extract) +‎ thaw (melt), respectively. The sense "not thaw, remain frozen" is from the late 1500s.


unthaw (third-person singular simple present unthaws, present participle unthawing, simple past and past participle unthawed)

  1. To not thaw; to (re-)freeze or remain frozen.
    • ca 1888, H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine: The Synthesis of Science, Religion, and Philosophy, Volume II, Anthropogenesis, pages 423—424:
      So early, in truth, that in the days when tropical nature was to be found, where now lie eternal unthawing snows, one could cross almost by dry land from Norway via Iceland and Greenland, to the lands that at present surround Hudson's Bay.
    • 1914, Rhys Carpenter, The Sun-Thief: and other poems, page 6–7:
      What fairer home than Earth's eternal hill
      Paved with unthawing snow, lit with the sun's
      Unwinking lamp, []
    • 1997, Louise Erdrich, Tales of Burning Love, page 336:
      Although the women found the picture of Jack in spike heels irresistible, their own feet, half frozen, thawing and unthawing, stung with such fierce poignancy that their humor was invaded by sympathy, and nobody laughed. "Here I was, broke," Marlis went on. "Knocked up. Which I did not expect, but which I halfway treasured and half resented [...]"
  2. To thaw out, to unfreeze; to become soft (of something which had been frozen).
    • 2006, Lian Hearn, Grass for his pillow: The way through the snow:
      The water steamed and bubbled around me. I felt a rush of gratitude for it, that it should well up out of the mountain, bathe my aching body, and unthaw my frozen limbs.
    • 2009, Ann Mah, Kitchen Chinese: A Novel About Food, Family, and Finding Yourself:
      The food is honest and hearty, perfect for unthawing frozen limbs [...]

See also[edit]