Which is Correct Thaw or Unthaw?

Which is Correct Thaw or Unthaw

We often get perplexed about which word to use. This occurs a lot when it comes to words that sound or spell the same. Two such words are thaw or unthaw. This article will differentiate between the two and look into the correct usage of these words and whether they are correct words or not.

English being a complex language involves many such words which create conundrums amongst the people. People are often confused about whether to use thaw or unthaw. Do you know which one is correct? Read on to know more about this.

Meaning: Thaw and Unthaw

Before knowing which to use, you should be familiar with the correct meanings of the two words. People often use these two words synonymously, which is sometimes considered invalid or wrong English. The meaning of the words are as follows:

  • Thaw: Thaw means to melt or to become liquid or soft as a consequence of warming up.
  • Unthaw: Unthaw logically means to not thaw, which means to not melt. In simpler words, it means to remain frozen. However, it is used as a synonym for the word thaw.

These two words are often used synonymously. There is a popular misconception that unthaw means to melt or to become soft or liquid. However, if we go about it technically unthaw should be the opposite of what the word thaw means. 

Which is correct Thaw or Unthaw: The ambiguity persists

There is no doubt that thaw is a valid English word. But the ambiguity lies in the fact that whether the word unthaw a valid one or not.

There persist different stances on this issue. Majorly, there are three prominent vies which are as follows:

  • Some of the dictionaries approve the validity of the word unthaw and present it as a synonym of the word thaw. Thus, this means that the word unthaw means to melt.
  • Other dictionaries consider the word unthaw as a valid one, but the meaning given in these dictionaries is different. Here, unthaw means to not thaw or to refreeze. This definition sounds more logical if we perceive it technically.
  • Some dictionaries do not even consider unthaw as a word.

Which set of dictionaries is correct is still an ambiguous thing. English is a complex language and such ambiguities are bound to rise. But if we look at the word unthaw through a technical lens, then it would mean to refreeze. Though the word unthaw logically means to freeze, yet it is used as a synonym of thaw which means to melt.

People use the word unthaw synonymously to thaw. This is incorrect technically. Unthaw is a double negative or non-word and hence an invalid word. But the way it sounds mostly trifles people and makes them believe that it is the correct word.

Some sites do not approve of the word unthaw while some regard it as the synonym of thaw and some as the exact opposite of the word thaw. The ambiguity persists even though this word has been in usage for the last four centuries both in American and British English.

Which word to use?

From the above discussion, it is explicit that the word unthaw is a bit ambiguous word to use. It is safer to use the word thaw instead. Though these two words are often used synonymously, it is better to use the word thaw.

Unthaw is an incorrect word according to some dictionaries. However, this is not the case with the word thaw. Thus, it is a better choice to use the word thaw when you want to indicate that something needs to be melted.

To make the usage more clear, here are some instances:

  • Allow the chocolate to thaw before adding it to the cake. 

In this sentence, the word thaw has been used to indicate the melting or warming up of the chocolate.

In this sentence, the word unthaw has been used instead of the word thaw. This is logically incorrect but the word has been in usage for a long time.


From the above elucidation, we can conclude that thaw is a more appropriate and valid word to use. The clouds of ambiguity persist on the correct usage of the word unthaw. There are different stances on the meaning of the word. So, to be on the safer side, one is advised to use the word thaw and not unthaw.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is unthaw a correct word to use?

The word unthaw has been in usage for centuries, however, if we look at it logically, its meaning should be opposite to that of thaw. But it is the same instead. There is confusion as to how to use this word correctly. So, you can use a safer and correct word thaw instead.

Do thaw and unthaw mean the same?

Yes, according to some dictionaries these are synonyms. However, looking at them technically, they should have the opposite meanings.

Which is Correct Thaw or Unthaw?

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