Definition of unpick in US English:



[with object]
  • 1Undo the sewing of (stitches or a garment)

    ‘I unpicked the seams of his trousers’
    • ‘Surrounded by suitors who were after the absent master's wealth and the absent master's bed, she fobs them off by saying she must finish her weaving before making her mind up - and cannily unpicks it each night.’
    • ‘Start unpicking the elbows from those sweaters.’
    • ‘Turn the skirt to the right side and unpick the seam using an unpicking tool of sharp pointed scissors.’
    • ‘You would unpick the sides of your jeans and as soon as you sewed the material into it and put them on, you just thought you were gorgeous.’
    • ‘Yellow is the percussion of light beneath clouds heavy as persecution, the sweetness running from waxy cells, the body honeyed with softness when pain's gold embroidery is unpicked.’
    • ‘After unpicking the strap and removing M, I, C and H thinking they might come in useful some time, I was left with O, S, N and O, which I fiddled around with a bit before settling on SNOO, which somehow appealed to me.’
    • ‘Shy, plump, wearing a hand-knitted blue angora bolero, slaved over by my mother unpicked more than once to get it just right for the big occasion.’
    • ‘It's obvious that being interviewed is proving quite distracting so I offer to unpick it for her while she talks.’
    • ‘Therefore I reasoned, the longer I left it before I started sewing, the longer it would be before I was squinting well into the night unpicking it.’
    • ‘My Auntie at one point unpicked and re-tied a section of it because she had the wrong shade of pink.’
    • ‘Penelope-like, she both weaves a narrative and contextual account of Lippi's life and work and unpicks her handiwork, creatively frustrating the reader's expectation of biographical closure.’
    • ‘I found it useful to use the removed strap to increase leverage on the ‘loop’ side when unpicking it.’
    • ‘He smiled as he recalled Chris's first words on returning from his interrupted visit to his family - ‘I'm gone for one day, and the threads of the universe start unpicking behind me.’’
    • ‘I spent hours at school making the cross-stitch ‘peg bag’ that everyone had to make only to stand up at the end of the lesson to find I'd attached it to my skirt and had to unpick it all.’
    • ‘Of course, you need to know beforehand that it fits, because you don't want to have to unpick all this stitching to alter it later.’
    • ‘Now, having unpicked and screwed up several times (I'm on the second hand now), I am beginning to realise why I don't knit more often.’
    • ‘They decided to secure the banner for the night and then return to unpick it in the morning and attempt to pull it further up the building.’
    unbolt, unlatch, unbar, undo, unfasten, unseal, unclose, open, free, throw open, throw wide
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    1. 1.1 Carefully analyze the different elements of, especially in order to find faults.
      • ‘Judy Cox unpicks the United Nations report into Israeli army atrocities’
      • ‘Alice Miles in the Times has a stab at unpicking this.’
      • ‘A detailed analysis of The Prince would be needed in order to unpick the ambivalent feelings Machiavelli had towards Cesare.’
      • ‘Yes it is a mess, and the guidelines tried to unpick some of those issues.’
      • ‘We cannot expect a child to analyse branding promotions or to unpick nutritional messages from advertising.’
      • ‘I've tried to unpick what the strange and fantastic phenomenon of Morrissey might represent psychologically, musically, sexually, and culturally.’
      • ‘I am sorry, you are going to have to really unpick this because you have wrapped up in one step what seemed to me to be about four.’
      • ‘Robinson has written her autobiography, Memoirs Of An Unfit Mother, which unpicks her marriage to Wilson, who has edited the Evening Times, the Sunday Standard, the Times, and The Sporting Life.’
      • ‘It would take a lifetime to unpick all of the critical readings that he offers in Orientalism.’
      • ‘The main sources are provided by extant accounts of papal ceremonial, particularly those relating to enthronement and funeral, and Paravicini-Bagliani unpicks their intriguing ritual detail to great effect.’
      • ‘Carefully unpicking the myth that has grown up around these games, Dougan illuminates an horrific period in Ukrainian history without succumbing to sensation.’
      • ‘You could try to unpick all the false assumptions in that last sentence, but frankly, its not worth it.’
      • ‘The more cerebral cinemagoer, however, is left in a conundrum as he or she tries to unpick the film's slapdash symbolism and script.’
      • ‘We have other good improvements in the bill relating to controls on sales to overseas people, which will go a long way to achieving a similar outcome, but it is very important that the underlying principle here be unpicked a little.’
      • ‘Reinhart unpicks the Camp David negotiations which have been consistently held up by the Israeli government and the ‘international community’ as the prime example of the Palestinians refusing to compromise.’
      • ‘Reading the Sangsters' book, which unpicks every last aspect of downshifting, the process itself appears to be as full of trials and tribulations as the daily grind of city life.’
      • ‘In the time I have here I will unpick each one of them.’
      • ‘This is void happiness, grey comfort missing love, where angels sit or lie, head in hands, where science kills the rainbow and unpicks the beauty of the Universe; it is ours for all time, ours to break and ours to kill.’
      • ‘Linda Woolley unpicks some of these strands, and holds them up to view.’
      • ‘It's not exactly the toughest metaphor in the world to unpick.’