opposites that aren’t opposite

We’re taught that the prefix un- indicates a reverse or opposite. In words like undo or unhappy, this makes sense, but how do we explain the following pair of words?

Ravel – to separate or undo the texture of; unravel
Unravel – to disengage or separate the thread of

This is the kind of question that makes teaching English so much fun.

3 thoughts on “opposites that aren’t opposite

  1. I am this week teaching the prefix "un" to my class. I will not mention this one as I am sure it will throw them for a loop. A loop that will unravel or ravel– whichever :)English is fascinating!

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