When you furl something, such as a flag or a sail, you roll it up neatly.
When you unfurl something, you unroll it or spread it out.
Figuratively unfurling something is to expand it or show it completely so that it's easy for everyone to see it or understand it.
Part of speech:
It's both transitive ("someone unfurls something")
and intransitive ("something unfurls.")
Other forms: unfurled, unfurling
How to use it:
Notice how this verb is both transitive and intransitive. That means you can talk about a person unfurling a thing, and you can also just say that a thing unfurls by itself.
Of course, you can be literal and talk about unfurling your umbrella, unfurling your flag, unfurling your sail, unfurling your banner or poster, etc. And you can say that a flower unfurls, a bird's wings unfurl, a column of smoke unfurls, and so on.
We're more interested in figurative unfurling. Talk about someone unfurling a plan or a proposal, someone unfurling a new system or a new set of rules, someone unfurling her argument or position or platform, etc. And you can talk about a plot or mystery unfurling, an idea unfurling in your mind, someone's motives unfurling in front of you, chaos or calm unfurling, the days or the weeks or the whole season unfurling before you, and so on.
The Secret Garden is the story of both a garden and young girl's spirit slowly unfurling.
While one moment he had no idea what to do, in the next, an entire plan had unfurled in his mind.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "unfurl" means when you can explain it without saying "unroll" or "unfold."
Think of a time in your life that got more and more hectic or more and more peaceful, and fill in the blanks: "As (something happened,) (chaos/calm) unfurled."
Example: "As I started the final semester of my undergraduate work, chaos unfurled."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
This month, we're playing with some fascinating thematic word lists assembled by Stephen Chrisomalis, an English language expert over at The Phrontistery who kindly gave permission for me to use his work. (Check out his site; you will definitely enjoy it!)
Try a question each day, and see the right answers here the following day--or if you can't wait, follow the link to Stephen's list to dig out the answers yourself. Have fun!
Match these terms for systems of knowledge and philosophical practices to their definitions:
- learned dinner-conversation - ancient learning or thought - the doctrine or theory of the soul - the system of knowledge concerning secrets
- Deipnosophy is learned dinner-conversation.
- Mysteriosophy is the system of knowledge concerning secrets.
- Palaeosophy is ancient learning or thought.
- Psychosophy is the doctrine or theory of the soul.
Try this one today:
As Stephen explains, Christianity has engendered its own vocabulary: hundreds of terms related to church and prayer and all kinds of things. Using your knowledge of word roots, could you answer the following questions about these Christian terms?
- Where is the antechapel in relation to the chapel?
- Does discalced mean without a hat, without a robe, or without shoes?
- A hagioscope is a hole in a wall of a chapel. Is it put there so people can sneak in, listen in, or see in?
Can't wait until tomorrow for the right answers? Check out Stephen's full list and discussion at the Phrontistery.
A Point Well Made:
George Chapman: “They’re only truly great who are truly good.”
1. One opposite of UNFURL is
A. ROLL ALONG
B. ROLL DOWN
C. ROLL UP
2. We have a few _____, but we're still struggling to unfurl the whole _____.
A. ideas .. budget
B. details .. backstory
C. volunteers .. work schedule
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Today's word is a simple, powerful one that might be going unused in your vocabulary. I don't imagine it's new to you, but I bring up words like these so that they're at the ready when you need them. :) Here are some more: can you recall them?