unravel (v.)

c. 1600 (transitive), from un- (2) + ravel (v.). Intransitive from 1640s. "The prefix is either reversive or intensive, according as ravel is taken to mean 'tangle' or 'untangle'" [Century Dictionary]. Related: Unravelled; unravelling; unravellment.

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frazzle (v.)

c. 1825, "to unravel" (of clothing), from East Anglian variant of 17c. fasel "to unravel, fray" (as the end of a rope), from Middle English facelyn "to fray" (mid-15c.), from fasylle "fringe, frayed edge," diminutive of Old English fæs "fringe, border." Related: Frazzled, frazzling. Compare German Faser "thread, fiber, filament," Middle Dutch vese "fringe, fiber, chaff." Probably influenced in form by fray (v.).

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explicate (v.)

"give a detailed account of," 1530s, from Latin explicatus, past participle of explicare "unfold, unravel, explain," from ex "out" (see ex-) + plicare "to fold" (from PIE root *plek- "to plait"). Related: Explicated; explicating.

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extricate (v.)

"disentangle, disengage, set free," 1610s, from Latin extricatus, past participle of extricare "disentangle," figuratively "clear up, unravel," perhaps from ex "out of" (see ex-) + tricae (plural) "perplexities, hindrances," which is of unknown origin. Related: Extricated; extricating.

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explicit (adj.)

1610s, "open to the understanding, not obscure or ambiguous," from French explicite, from Latin explicitus "unobstructed," variant past participle of explicare "unfold, unravel, explain," from ex "out" (see ex-) + plicare "to fold" (from PIE root *plek- "to plait").

As a euphemism for "pornographic" it dates from 1971 (phrases such as sexually explicit are earlier). Related: Explicitness. "Explicitus" was written at the end of medieval books, originally short for explicitus est liber "the book is unrolled."

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faze (v.)

1830, American English, said to be a variant of Kentish dialect feeze "to frighten, alarm, discomfit" (mid-15c.), from Old English fesian, fysian "drive away, send forth, put to flight," from Proto-Germanic *fausjan (source also of Swedish fösa "drive away," Norwegian föysa). Related: Fazed; fazing. Bartlett (1848) has it as to be in a feeze "in a state of excitement." There also is a nautical verb feaze "to unravel" (a rope), from 1560s.

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ravel (v.)

1580s, "to entangle, become entwined confusedly," also "to untangle, disentangle, unwind" (originally with out), from Dutch ravelen "to tangle, fray," rafelen "to unweave," from rafel "frayed thread," which is of uncertain origin. The seemingly contradictory senses of this word (ravel and unravel are both synonyms and antonyms) might be reconciled by its roots in weaving and sewing: as threads become unwoven, they get tangled. The "entangling" meaning is the "more original" sense according to OED. From 1590s in the figurative sense of "make plain or clear;" 1610s as "make a minute and careful investigation." The intransitive sense, of fabric, "become untwisted or disjointed thread from thread" is by 1610s.

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run (n.)

mid-15c. (earlier ren, late 14c.), "a spell of running, the act of running," from run (v.).

The Old English noun ryne/yrn (early Middle English rine) meant "a flowing, a course, a watercourse;" the modern sense of "small stream" is recorded from 1580s, mostly in Northern English dialect and American English. The sense of "a flowing or pouring, as of liquid" is by 1814. In reference to the action of a school of fish moving together, especially upstream or in-shore, by 1820.

From 1804 as "place where anything runs or may run." The meaning "the privilege of going through or over, free access" is from 1755. In. U.S. baseball, "feat of running around the bases without being put out" by 1856; the sense in cricket is from 1746.

Meaning "continuous stretch" (of something) is from 1670s. That of "continuous use, circulation, or observance" (as in run of luck) is by 1714. The general sense of "a continuous series or succession" has yielded many specific meanings, as "three or more playing cards in consecutive order" (1870). In music, "a rapid succession of consecutive tones," by 1835.

The financial meaning "extraordinary series or rush of demands on a bank, etc." is recorded from 1690s. The market sense of "sustained demand for something" is by 1816.

From 1712 as "a spell of sailing between two ports;" hence also "an excursion trip" (1819); "single trip by a railroad train" (1857); the military aircraft attack sense (as in bombing run) is from 1916. Hence also "a regular round in a vehicle" (as in paper run, milk run, etc.).

In printing, the meaning "total number of copies done in a single period of press-work" is from 1909. In publishing, "set or series of consecutive numbers of a periodical," by 1889.

Meaning "tear in a knitted garment or stocking" is from 1922, probably on the notion of "a failure caused by looseness, weakness, or giving way;" to run had a specialized sense in reference to machinery, "to slip, go awry" (1846), and in reference to lace it meant "to unravel, come undone" (1878). Also compare running stitch "loose, open stitch" (1848).

Phrase a run for one's money "satisfaction for trouble taken" is from 1872 in a figurative sense, from horse racing, where it implied real competition (1841).

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