"peel" and "unpeel"

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Wang Jing, Dec 2, 2007.

  1. What's the difference between "peel" and "unpeel"?
     
  2. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    That's easy, "unpeel" is not a word.

    However, unpeeled is a word meaning "not peeled".
     
  3. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hello Wang Jing, and welcome to WordReference.

    Perhaps the biggest difference is that you will find peel in all good dictionaries.
    I can't find an entry for unpeel in the WordReference dictionary, the OED, Dictionary.com or Merriam-Webster.

    Although unpeel is used, it seems not to have made its way into the records :)
    I think this is a shame because unpeel has a sense of discovery that peel lacks.
     
  4. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    If unpeel ever were to become a word, it would have to mean "putting a sheath back on to something/to resheath".
     
  5. Neither can I find "unpeel" in dictionaries, but I found it in Google

    Plant Pathologists Unpeel Rumors of Banana Extinction.

    Easy to install, use a thin screwdriver to edge up the old screen, then just unpeel and remove it and re-stick the new screen back into place.

    Prepare to unpeel the super-sized satsuma.

    The "I" voice's desire to unpeel the layers of social convention that cloud her life is evident in "White/ Godiva, I unpeel---/ Dead hands, dead stringencies."
    .
     
  6. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    If we relied on everything we find on Google, we could throw away our dictionaries.:)
     
  7. nzfauna

    nzfauna Senior Member

    Wellington, New Zealand
    New Zealand, English
    I agree, Google is for the hoi polloi, whereas debate on modern English usage is for the educated.
     
  8. My teacher told me: When English written in dictionary, it is dead.

    Dictionaries can't catch up.
     
  9. Dimcl Senior Member

    British Columbia, Canada
    Canadian English
    Then go ahead and use "unpeel".;)
     
  10. This word "unpeel" appears in a poet, Ariel, written by Sylvia Plath, an American poet.

    I guess it's not for hoi polloi? :)
     
  11. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    I second, third, fourth and fifth that, NZF.
    Incidentally, I have no objection to unpeel ~ it makes more sense than peel. (Not that sense is everything.)
    cf. sheathe = to put a sheath on; unsheathe = to take a sheath off. (I'm sure there are a zillion others, but this is the only one that comes to mind at the moment.)
     
  12. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Is anyone suggesting that we rely on Google? I think not. As a reasonable debate on modern English usage, the emergence of unpeel can be supported by well-chosen examples - wherever found.

    There is no need for unpeel to mean the reverse of peel. Didn't we have a very recent thread about ravel and unravel? We did, yesterday :)
    ravel = unravel

    On the other hand, it is much too glib to declare that English written in a dictionary is dead. That kind of superficial comment is not at all helpful. You only have to look through a few pages of these forums to discover that dictionaries of all kinds are actively documenting the evolution of English.

    It is equally glib and superficial to declare that "Google is for the hoi polloi."
     
  13. "To unpeel" means to put the peel back on, or to remove the peel?

    Anyway, it seems that native speakers have disagreement about that.
     
  14. surikata Senior Member

    4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancs
    London(BBC)English
    Perhaps `Dictionaries cannot keep up` mentioned by your teacher refers to the internet and it`s rapid growth.
    I am reminded of the song `Unbreak my Heart`....in explanation it took some time in a junior English lesson whereas Unexplained and Unpredictable were understood.....undoubtedly.
     
  15. surikata Senior Member

    4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancs
    London(BBC)English
    Wang Jing, Its `peel` that we must concentrate on here.
    `the peel` being something you can see and hold.
    `to peel` being an action.

    `unpeel` to my mind, is not a reverse action.


    Hope this helps.
     
  16. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    Another Country
    English English
    Perhaps, Wang, the best we can hope for here is to have the native speakers agree that peel/unpeel is a thorny question.
    [This apple is thin-peeled = This apple has a thin peel which is still on it.
    This apple has been thinly peeled = This apple has had its (thick?) peel removed in thin slices.
    As I've said before and will no doubt say again: I'm glad I'm not learning English!]
     
  17. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    There is discussion, at the level of analysing the word and its construction, in which two opposite meanings are suggested. Amongst those who use the word, and those who hear or read it, I am sure there is no misunderstanding.
     
  18. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    I'm surprised that "unpeel" hasn't yet reached the dictionaries panj mentioned.

    I'd certainly be happy to use it, normally with a slightly different meaning from "peel" (removing a layer or layers, rather than removing 'peel' as such). If it's good enough for the Oxford University Press, it's good enough for me!:D

    Loob
     
  19. mplsray Senior Member

    I'm quite surprised that "unpeel" is not in the OED, because it is in Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. The "un-" in "unpeel" is not the negating prefix of "unsung" or "unbelievable," but a different prefix, one derived from Old English "and-," meaning "against." The latter prefix is the one in "unfold" and "unhand," and in a word mentioned elsewhere in this thread, "unravel."

    The definition given for "unpeel" in Webster's Third is "to remove an outer covering (as bark, a rind, or a peel) from."
     
  20. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I may be wrong about the OED, I don't have full access just now.

    Later:
    I just got at the full OED and there it is, with examples from 1904 onwards.
    Sorry about any confusion caused by earlier posts.
     
  21. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    It *is* there, panj, in the online version, with examples dating from 1904 and including the splendid:

    a1914 in Penguin Bk. Austral. Ballads (1964) 122 Then the sheila raced off squealin', And her clothes she was un-peelin'.

    So we can relax: "unpeel" has existed for at least a century...

    Loob

    EDIT: oh, I see panj found it at the same time I did:)
     
  22. It takes time for a new English dictionary to be accessible in China, so the dictionary I am using now may be a little out of date.
    Then, what's the difference between "peel" and "unpeel"?
     
  23. Arrius

    Arrius Senior Member

    Spain
    English, UK
    Without the allegedly moribund words in the dictionary to act as a brake, the great deal of erroneous junk to be found on google would encourage an even more undesirably rapid change in the language. Btw, whereas unpeel applied to a banana (or a stripper) doesn't sound too bad, I don't think you could do it to a potato - only peel.
     
  24. Loob

    Loob Senior Member

    English UK
    Personally, I would use "peel" specifically for the action of taking the 'peel' off an orange, banana etc.

    I might use "unpeel" for this action; but I'd be more likely to use it for removing a layer (or layers) of something else - plastic, paper, clothing...

    Loob
     
  25. mplsray Senior Member

    "Peel" has intransitive uses, "unpeel," at least according to Webster's Third, does not. "Peel" has senses which do not concern removing peels or other coverings (Webster's Third shows a use of the verb in the game of croquet, for example). "Unpeel" is restricted to the sense of removing peels or other coverings.

    Most importantly, "unpeel" is rare compared to "peel," and many English speakers are likely to mistake it for an error, for example, thinking it is a double negative (which it emphatically is not). I would advise anyone learning English as a second language to learn it as part of their passive vocabulary only (that is, understand what it means but do not use it themselves).
     
  26. Languages are always confusing. Teachers told us that we should notice shades of meanings between words. Whereas very often we can just feel the difference but can't say it. Or there are too many to be known.
     
  27. surikata Senior Member

    4000 holes in Blackburn, Lancs
    London(BBC)English
    I love the term `shades of meanings` and would applaud the teacher that used the term. Rest assured, you appear to be receiving quality tuition.

    I have peeled off this reply quite quickly.
     

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