Entries linking to Unwound
prefix of negation, Old English un-, from Proto-Germanic *un- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German un-, Gothic un-, Dutch on-), from PIE *n- (source of Sanskrit a-, an- "not," Greek a-, an-, Old Irish an-, Latin in-), combining form of PIE root *ne- "not." Often euphemistic (such as untruth for "lie").
The most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- (1) the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.
It also makes words from phrases (such as uncalled-for, c. 1600; undreamed-of, 1630s; uncome-at-able, 1690s; unputdownable, 1947, of a book; un-in-one-breath-utterable, Ben Jonson; etc., but the habit is not restricted to un-; such as put-up-able-with, 1812). As a prefix in telegramese to replace not and save the cost of a word, it is attested by 1936.
"move by turning and twisting," Old English windan "to turn, twist, plait, curl, brandish, swing" (class III strong verb; past tense wand, past participle wunden), from Proto-Germanic *windan "to wind" (source also of Old Saxon windan, Old Norse vinda, Old Frisian winda, Dutch winden, Old High German wintan, German winden, Gothic windan "to wind"), from PIE *wendh- "to turn, wind, weave" (source also of Latin viere "twist, plait, weave," vincire "bind;" Lithuanian vyti "twist, wind").
Related to wend, which is its causative form, and to wander. The past tense and past participle merged in Middle English. Meaning "to twine, entwine oneself around" is from 1590s; transitive sense of "turn or twist round and round (on something) is from c. 1300. Meaning "set a watch, clockwork, etc. in operating mode by tightening its spring" is from c. 1600. Wind down "come to a conclusion" is recorded from 1952; wind up "come to a conclusion" is from 1825; earlier in transitive sense "put (affairs) in order in advance of a final settlement" (1780). Winding sheet "shroud of a corpse" is attested from early 15c.
early 14c., "to undo" (a bandage, wrapping, etc.), from un- (2) "opposite of" + wind (v.1). Similar formation in Old English unwindan "unveil, uncover," Dutch ontwinden, Old High German intwindan. Reflexive sense is recorded from 1740; figurative sense of "to release oneself from tensions, to relax" is by 1938. Related: Unwound; unwinding.
updated on October 14, 2021