This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Thing To Do Today: (un)ravel something.

This is hardly a challenge for even the idlest amongst us.

To ravel something, that is to untangle it, all you have to do (according to Macbeth, at least) is take a nap.* 

Sleep, he tell us...knits up the ravelled sleave of care.

So there we are. If life is like a knitted sleeve (hmm...) and it comes all unpicked so you find yourself tangled up in loose ends, then all you have to do is sleep and all the ends will be tucked them back neatly together again by the time you wake up.

Well, it has to be worth a try, anyway.

Unfortunately, when you look at that Macbeth quote again, you'll see that although we know that ravel means to knit together, Macbeth is using it to mean to tangle things up. Yes, yes, that's exactly the opposite of ravel (though there is a word unravel, too, which means the same as the first ravel).

Confused? Well, don't worry if you are, because there is yet another meaning of ravel, though it's not used much any more. It means to make or become confused or complicated.

You can see why ravel has that meaning, can't you. In fact you can even see why, if a road surface is ravelled, it's beginning to break up.

It's really all a bit bewildering. But never mind. Probably the thing to do is to sleep on it.

1600×900 Sleeping Kitten Puppy Wallpaper Wallpaper

Thing To Do Today: ravel something. This word comes to us from the Middle Dutch ravelen.

*Though, come to think about it, Macbeth is the last person anyone should trust.


  1. Lovely! Love the picture too....and there is a wonderful knitting website called RAVELRY! There you go!

  2. That sounds so good. I must learn to knit, I really must, if only to be able to decipher the patterns.
    Hey, that'd be an interesting subject to research for Nuts and Bolts!