The opposite of unravel

I’ve been unravelling this week – just some knitting, you understand 😉

It occurred to me that I often “unravel”, but I’ve never used (or even come across) the opposite word “ravel” … So I looked it up to check it exists, and sure enough, “ravel” is both a verb and a noun …


1. (Ravel something out) Untangle or unravel something.
‘Davy had finished ravelling out his herring net’

2. Unravel; fray.
‘a shirt with a ravelled collar’

3. Confuse or complicate (a question or situation)
‘I’d prefer you to keep your nose out of my business and not ravel things further’


A tangle, cluster, or knot.
‘a ravel of knitting’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘entangle, confuse’): probably from Dutch ravelen ‘fray out, tangle’.

I have to admit I find the above definition of the verb rather confusing, with its use of the word “unravel” as part of the description. The confusion is appropriate, I suppose 😉

No, “ravel” is not a word I’m going to be using in everyday conversation. How about you?

Have you discovered any new words lately? I’d love to hear about them!




About yarnsmithery

Sharing my love of yarny craft and encouraging others to give it a go!
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3 Responses to The opposite of unravel

  1. catterel says:

    Feeling a bit ravelled this evening … have also been wondering about words like that. There’s probably a fancy name for them – uncouth and unkempt for instance. I feel a post coming on!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. swissrose says:

    Well whaddya know…??!!

    I did just hear someone use proliferous when they meant prolific… erm?!


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