Definition of unspool in US English:



[no object]
  • 1Unwind from or as if from a spool.

    with object ‘he unspooled the tape from the casing’
    • ‘No, you cannot unspool an entire roll of toilet paper.’
    • ‘As the ribbon begins to unspool, the spacecraft, which acts like a counterweight, is moved outward.’
    • ‘No doubt it would be difficult to set up the apparatus illustrated in the figures of the patent to unspool simultaneously 6 or 8 pipes and flexible conduits of very differing outside diameters, surface characteristics and weights.’
    • ‘Now, when you go to the movie theater you expect to see a few trailers before the film, but how do you feel when 30 minutes of commercials unspool before those trailers?’
    • ‘You remember when cassette tapes were all the rage, and occasionally they'd go haywire in your stereo and all the tape would twist up and unspool and pull out of the plastic casing?’
    • ‘I glance down with horror and see my reel merrily unspooling its way down the shot.’
    • ‘Much as it pained him, he and a Times staff assistant shredded his notebooks and file folders, unspooled all of his tapes, filled two tall trash cans with the material, and burned it.’
    • ‘"But she's alive?" Kienan asked, unspooling a length of small but strong cable from a pouch on his belt.’
    • ‘Course corrections are sent via the wire, which is unspooled as the missile is in flight.’
    • ‘When that structure is complete, it starts unspooling an ultra-strong ribbon back down to the Pacific.’
    • ‘Just you make certain that you keep unspooling the string, Sullivan.’
    • ‘And they won't get unspooled in the machine and jam it up.’
    • ‘Even as the telecoms unspool their fiber, aggressive cable players are already feasting.’
    1. 1.1 (of a film) be screened.
      • ‘From the dressing rooms a doorway leads to the cinema projection room, where the latest Tom Cruise movie is unspooling on a giant platter.’
      • ‘In the business, it's called rolling news - live footage of a breaking story that unspools before our very eyes.’
      • ‘My challenge is to try and guess who directed which scenes as the whole mess unspools on my TV.’
      • ‘Indeed, with more than a hundred features and nearly as many shorts unspooling all across this chilly resort town over the course of 10 days, the critic couldn't help but find a few pictures to keep him warm.’
      • ‘They're quite eager to claim the movie as an example of Mr. Southern's brilliance, but as the documentary unspools it becomes apparent that Sellers made up most of his dialogue.’
    2. 1.2with object Show (a film).
      • ‘The directors unspool an awesome collection of vintage propaganda, from footage of the massive performance The East Is Red to placards and radio speeches.’
      • ‘Since '67, the Parallèle has unspooled hundreds of thousands of reels of alternative celluloid.’