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From Middle English unwinden, from Old English unwindan (to unwind; unwrap), from Proto-Germanic *andawindaną (to unwind); equivalent to un- +‎ wind (to coil). Cognate with Dutch ontwinden (to unwind).



unwind (third-person singular simple present unwinds, present participle unwinding, simple past and past participle unwound)

  1. (transitive) To separate (something that is wound up)
    to unwind a ball of yarn
    Could you unwind about a foot of ribbon so I can finish the package?
    Synonyms: untwist, untwine
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To disentangle
    • 1836, Richard Hooker, The Works of Richard Hooker, Volume 4, page 27:
      [] but being not so skilful as in every point to unwind themselves where the snares of glossing speech do lie to entangle them, []
  3. (intransitive, slang) To relax; to chill out; to rest and relieve of stress
    After work, I like to unwind by smoking a pipe while reading the paper.
  4. (intransitive) To be or become unwound; to be capable of being unwound or untwisted.
  5. (transitive, finance) To undo something.

Related terms[edit]


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