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ravel Syllabification: rav·el
Pronunciation: /ˈravəl/

Definition of ravel in English:

verb (ravels, raveling, raveled ; British ravels, ravelling, ravelled)

[with object]
1 (ravel something out) Untangle or unravel something: Davy had finished raveling out his herring net figurative sleep raveled out the tangles of his mind
More example sentences
  • Individual sheets are raveled out in advance by blowing air against the side of a stack of sheets to remove attractions between sheets.
2Confuse or complicate (a question or situation).
Example sentences
  • The plot is sufficiently ravelled for the entry to Valhalla to have only ambiguous significance.


rare Back to top  
A tangle, cluster, or knot: a lovely yellow ravel of sunflowers
More example sentences
  • We discovered that whoever installed the pipes sealed the joints with duct tape because little silver ravels are visible at each section.
  • What results is a controlled ravel (because the cuts are made on the bias) and a fluffy chenille effect.


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

  • unravel from early 17th century:

    The Dutch were the first to ravel, which originally meant both ‘to entangle’ and ‘to disentangle’. In the early 17th century unravel added to the existing complexity. You might think that ravel would then have settled down as its opposite, ‘to entangle’, but that is not what happened, and ravel and unravel usually have the same meaning.

Words that rhyme with ravel

Cavell, cavil, gavel, gravel, travel
Definition of ravel in:
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