"peel" and "unpeel"

  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    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.
     
    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."
    .
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I agree, Google is for the hoi polloi, whereas debate on modern English usage is for the educated.

    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.)
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    If we relied on everything we find on Google, we could throw away our dictionaries.:)
    I agree, Google is for the hoi polloi, whereas debate on modern English usage is for the educated.
    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."
     

    surikata

    Senior Member
    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.
     

    ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    "To unpeel" means to put the peel back on, or to remove the peel?

    Both mean remove the peel from. The argument we're having is about whether or not unpeel exists.

    Anyway, it seems that native speakers have disagreement about that.

    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!]
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    "To unpeel" means to put the peel back on, or to remove the peel?
    Anyway, it seems that native speakers have disagreement about that.
    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.
     

    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
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    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.

    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."
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    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.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I may be wrong about the OED, I don't have full access just now.

    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:)
     

    Arrius

    Senior Member
    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.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Then, what's the difference between "peel" and "unpeel"?

    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
     

    mplsray

    Senior Member
    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"?

    "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).
     
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