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[ri-zolv] /rɪˈzɒlv/
verb (used with object), resolved, resolving.
to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something):
I have resolved that I shall live to the full.
to separate into constituent or elementary parts; break up; cause or disintegrate (usually followed by into).
to reduce or convert by, or as by, breaking up or disintegration (usually followed by to or into).
to convert or transform by any process (often used reflexively).
to reduce by mental analysis (often followed by into).
to settle, determine, or state in a formal vote or formal expression of opinion or intention, as of a deliberative assembly.
to deal with (a question, a matter of uncertainty, etc.) conclusively; settle; solve:
to resolve the question before the board.
to clear away or dispel (doubts, fears, etc.); answer:
to resolve any doubts we may have had.
Chemistry. to separate (a racemic mixture) into optically active components.
Music. to cause (a voice part or the harmony as a whole) to progress from a dissonance to a consonance.
Optics. to separate and make visible the individual parts of (an image); distinguish between.
Medicine/Medical. to cause (swellings, inflammation, etc.) to disappear without suppuration.
verb (used without object), resolved, resolving.
to come to a determination; make up one's mind; determine (often followed by on or upon):
to resolve on a plan of action.
to break up or disintegrate.
to be reduced or changed by breaking up or otherwise (usually followed by to or into).
Music. to progress from a dissonance to a consonance.
a resolution or determination made, as to follow some course of action.
firmness of purpose or intent; determination.
Origin of resolve
1325-75; Middle English resolven (v.) < Latin resolvere to unfasten, loosen, release, equivalent to re- re- + solvere to loosen; see solve
Related forms
resolver, noun
preresolve, verb, preresolved, preresolving.
unresolving, adjective
1. confirm. See decide. 2. analyze, reduce. 17, 18. decision. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for resolve
  • And every artist must resolve the tension between the mind's eye and the material framework of color.
  • These strangely beautiful devices are monuments to humankind's resolve to learn about the universe.
  • At present, the disparity is something that requires further study of multiple tyrannosaur growth series to resolve.
  • Right after the tragedy, many people expressed a defiant resolve to rebuild the city.
  • Wake admits that this explanation does not really resolve how the aquatic caecilian or the frog might have lost their lungs.
  • Representatives meet weekly to resolve issues ranging from communications between opposing armies to repatriation of war remains.
  • The pair was also beset with injuries, both routine and scary, that tested their resolve and resourcefulness.
  • At times these songs got artists into conflicts with the regime but they also helped fuel the people's resolve.
  • His years in prison strengthened his resolve and now he uses his camera as a weapon to fight against war and injustice.
  • The weather has changed and the gnu have lost the mad resolve to cross.
British Dictionary definitions for resolve


verb (mainly transitive)
(takes a clause as object or an infinitive) to decide or determine firmly
to express (an opinion) formally, esp (of a public meeting) one agreed by a vote
(also intransitive) usually foll by into. to separate or cause to separate (into) (constituent parts or elements)
(usually reflexive) to change, alter, or appear to change or alter: the ghost resolved itself into a tree
to make up the mind of; cause to decide: the tempest resolved him to stay at home
to find the answer or solution to; solve: to resolve a problem
to explain away or dispel: to resolve a doubt
to bring to an end; conclude: to resolve an argument
(med) to cause (a swelling or inflammation) to subside, esp without the formation of pus
(also intransitive) to follow (a dissonant note or chord) or (of a dissonant note or chord) to be followed by one producing a consonance
(chem) to separate (a racemic mixture) into its optically active constituents
  1. to distinguish between (separate parts) of (an image) as in a microscope, telescope, or other optical instrument
  2. to separate (two adjacent peaks) in a spectrum by means of a spectrometer
(maths) to split (a vector) into its components in specified directions
an obsolete word for dissolve
something determined or decided; resolution: he had made a resolve to work all day
firmness of purpose; determination: nothing can break his resolve
Derived Forms
resolver, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin resolvere to unfasten, reveal, from re- + solvere to loosen; see solve
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for resolve

late 14c., "melt, dissolve, reduce to liquid;" intransitive sense from c.1400; from Old French resolver or directly from Latin resolvere "to loosen, loose, unyoke, undo; explain; relax; set free; make void, dispel," from re-, perhaps intensive, or "back" (see re-), + solvere "loosen" (see solve). Early 15c. as "separate into components," hence the use in optics (1785). Meaning "determine, decide upon" is from 1520s, hence "pass a resolution" (1580s). For sense evolution, cf. resolute (adj.). Related: Resolved; resolving.


"determination, firmness or fixedness of purpose; a determination," 1590s, from resolve (v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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resolve in Medicine

resolve re·solve (rĭ-zŏlv')
v. re·solved, re·solv·ing, re·solves

  1. To cause resolution of an abnormal condition.

  2. To separate an optically inactive compound or mixture into its optically active constituents.

  3. To render parts of an image visible and distinct.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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