Definition of untangle in English:



  • 1 Free from a tangled or twisted state.

    ‘fishermen untangle their nets’
    • ‘It means spending hours untangling Christmas lights and searching for the one loose bulb keeping them stubbornly dim.’
    • ‘Initially, the umbilical cord was caught around her neck so while she untangled her new daughter he fetched clean towels and helped to clean her.’
    • ‘I would watch the dark, tanned bodies of fishermen, untangling their seine, getting ready for the toils of the day.’
    • ‘The place was deserted, save for myriad squirrels, but I found that some young tykes had tangled up the swings, so I did my bit for community service and untangled them.’
    • ‘While progress is good, and the scarf will be completed, I sometimes think that untangling the wool is more fun than the actual knitting.’
    • ‘At the next pull it shakes into life and we're off towards Dawros Head, untangling the fishing line, scanning the water for mackerel shoals breaking the surface.’
    • ‘She reached to untangle the reins and free the horse, the bushes scratching at her arms, snagging the sleeves of her now-tattered dress.’
    • ‘Chose a clear day to mend a broken fence covered in a climber, as it will be a time-consuming job to untie and untangle the plant.’
    • ‘This is done by cutting off all fruited canes at the base and untangling new growth and tying it to supports against the wall or fence.’
    • ‘Combs for untangling knots sell like hot cakes.’
    • ‘Most ramblers flower on shoots produced the previous season so anything pruned now reduces flowering, so prune only to shape the plant and untangle it, removing, where possible, just the oldest wood.’
    • ‘A weeping father untangles the limbs of his dead son from the barbed wire that held him under the flood.’
    • ‘The bones were sort of tangled, so the doctors had to untangle the bones and then sort of maneuver their way through my hand and create fingers.’
    • ‘He twisted his hands to untangle them, then he discovered my watch and started poking at the liquid crystal display behind the glass.’
    • ‘Instead, engineers developed ‘splicing,’ which untangles the ends of threads and twists them together at the same time.’
    • ‘Mick had to fend off youngsters trying to jump onto his boat, cope with water shortages, regularly untangle his propeller, avoid a sunken portable toilet and even hide from a barrage of maggots.’
    • ‘A worker untangles his hose on the freshly sandblasted deck of the Queen of Coquitlam.’
    • ‘This is the second time in the last 12 months we have had to untangle a swan from the river.’
    disentangle, unravel, unsnarl, unjumble, straighten out, sort out, untwist, untwine, untie, unknot, undo
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Make (something complicated or confusing) easier to understand or deal with.
      • ‘It appears that as a result of this ‘cross-contamination’, the two lists have arrived at a point where there are variations on each other and it is probably impossible to untangle them.’
      • ‘When you have watched men of the cloth ministering to the Drumcree marchers, and watched the Orange battalions at prayer, it is less easy to untangle religion from the emotions involved.’
      • ‘We should therefore take heart from what has largely been an unsensational, sensitive and informed approach not just to reporting events but to untangling the complex political and diplomatic background.’
      • ‘The news is that young people are taking the lead in untangling the issues, as the hip hop generation runs its first political campaign.’
      • ‘In The Hill, he nicely untangles the web of money contributions and Washington hardball that led thirteen Senators to bully him into backing off.’
      • ‘In addition, since economic growth is central to progress the two concepts cannot be easily untangled.’
      • ‘Produced by Paper Birds, this is an impressionistic and melancholy hour of physical theatre that tangles together and untangles the lives of six young women who all passed through a single room.’
      • ‘In an effort to untangle the issues, SEE Magazine spoke to an independent researcher and consultant on health promotion and health policy.’
      • ‘A complementary line of research, meanwhile, is untangling the mechanisms for predicting what is nasty.’
      • ‘A liner note by the executive producer untangles some of this all-too-typical Balkan tale, but this recording is more a testament to resilience and joy than anger and resentment.’
      • ‘They must not only unravel the problems of their own lives, they must untangle the mystery of his death.’
      • ‘The use of a highly textured piercing sound whose layers cannot be easily untangled makes his painful memory visceral for the viewer.’
      • ‘He valiantly discards this safety net, daring readers to untangle the clues ahead of the police.’
      • ‘If Alam's job as hard-nosed, aggressive news editor is to untangle fact from fiction, Yaqub's as editor is to give her younger readers a sense of identity within a traditional theology.’
      • ‘Orin Kerr has a long post that tries to begin to untangle the difficult legal threads of constitutional and statutory law.’
      • ‘The Cave untangles this paradox through its dogged insistence on an ancient, if seldom realized, human quality: generosity.’
      • ‘I lingered on in the car park, untangling emotions, uncertain what I wanted to do next.’
      • ‘One could spend hours untangling the skeins of etymologies and historical allusions Kinsella has woven together in these poems.’
      • ‘For untangling the spaghetti bowl that is Tokyo's train/subway system, it's pretty much indispensable.’
      • ‘The conundrum facing anyone wishing to untangle the events of the last three months is that when all the smoke clears, there is no one else the British or Unionists can do business with but Sinn Fein.’
      solve, find an answer to, find the answer to, answer, find a solution to, find the solution to, resolve, work out, puzzle out, fathom, understand, find the key to, decipher, clear up, make easier to understand, make simpler, make plainer, clarify, make more comprehensible, make more intelligible, remove the complexities from, straighten out, sort out, get to the bottom of, make head or tail of, unravel, disentangle, unfold, piece together, simplify, explain, expound, elucidate, illuminate
      View synonyms