Definition of resolve in English:

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Pronunciation: /rɪˈzɒlv/


1 [with object] Settle or find a solution to (a problem or contentious matter): the firm aims to resolve problems within 30 days
More example sentences
  • Sometimes, the most vexed problems are resolved through simple solutions.
  • It is a big concern but we are working very hard on a solution to try and resolve the matter before it goes to court.
  • Through that approach, persons with a dispute in the civil court are given the opportunity to resolve the matter with solutions that they devise.
settle, sort out, solve, find a solution to, find an answer to, fix, work out, straighten out, deal with, put right, set right, put to rights, rectify, iron out, reconcile;
answer, explain, fathom, unravel, disentangle, clarify, clear up, throw light on
informal sew up, hammer out, thrash out, patch up, crack, figure out
1.1 [with object] Medicine Cause (a symptom or condition) to heal or subside: endoscopic biliary drainage can rapidly resolve jaundice
More example sentences
  • Giving capsules to children to resolve dietary deficiencies tells their families the problem is beyond their control.
  • The first priority of the dentist is to alleviate pain and resolve infection.
  • The patient was treated and the infection was resolved.
1.2 [no object] (Of a symptom or condition) heal or subside: symptoms resolved after a median of four weeks
More example sentences
  • Fever may resolve before respiratory symptoms appear.
  • This condition may resolve without symptoms, or it may affect a variety of organs, depending on the patient.
  • His hypertension and diabetes have resolved and his arthralgia has improved.
1.3 Music (With reference to a discord) pass or cause to pass into a concord during the course of harmonic change: [no object]: dissonant notes resolve conventionally by rising or falling to form part of a new chord [with object]: you would not want to resolve a melodic line on to the minor sixth interval
More example sentences
  • Thus Skalkottas, although continuing the motivic development, follows the essential principle of traditional sonata form and resolves the previous harmonic tensions.
  • Dissonant notes resolve in a conventional way, only to become part of an unexpected chord.
  • Generally speaking, notes resolve in the direction of their inflection: upward- inflected notes resolve up, and downward-inflected notes resolve down.
2 [no object] Decide firmly on a course of action: [with infinitive]: she resolved to ring Dana as soon as she got home
More example sentences
  • However, when he finally resolved on retreat a bizarre series of accidents enabled the Spaniards to occupy Bailén and cut off Dupont and a large portion of his army.
  • And it was for that reason, because of all that fear, and want, and confusion, that I had eventually resolved on asking him to be friends.
  • How can anger, or any other emotion or feeling, get someone to go against what they have deliberately resolved on doing?
determine, decide, make up one's mind, take a decision, reach a decision, conclude, come to the conclusion;
settle on a plan of action
2.1 [with clause] (Of a legislative body or other formal meeting) make a decision by a formal vote: the executive resolved that a strike would be detrimental to all concerned [with infinitive]: the conference resolved to support an alliance
More example sentences
  • The meeting resolved that teachers had no choice but to resign in protest over the government's ‘negligence’.
  • She said the meeting resolved that a joint committee should be established to find out why the service providers did not comply with the agreement.
  • The decision was arrived at after a committee meeting which resolved that missing training is a sign of indiscipline in the sport.
vote, pass a resolution, rule, move, decide formally, agree, undertake
3chiefly Chemistry Separate or cause to be separated into constituent parts or components: [with object]: alpha-zein is often resolved into two major size components [no object]: the Labyrinth’s design resolves into a number of distinct functional areas
More example sentences
  • For example, in relaxed myofibrils, it was unclear whether each Tmod striation could be unambiguously resolved into separate thin filament profiles.
  • Epstein et al. described sulphate uptake which was resolved into a saturable high-affinity phase and a non-saturable low-affinity phase.
  • Malalignment can be resolved into two components.
break down, break up, separate, reduce, decompose, divide;
disintegrate, dissolve
3.1 [with object] (resolve something into) Reduce a subject, statement, etc. by mental analysis into (separate elements or a more elementary form): the ability to resolve facts into their legal categories
More example sentences
  • Edwards first argues that the idea of a body can be resolved into ideas of color and resistance.
  • Because in proceeding thus we are only collecting by historical methodology the definitions at hand and resolving them into a general formula.
  • O'Brien aims for nothing less than resolving this dialectic into an integrated whole, often by means of a metafictional discourse in which his characters and narrators engage in the dialectic themselves.
analyse, dissect, break down, anatomize
3.2 [with object] Physics Analyse (a force or velocity) into components acting in particular directions.
Example sentences
  • Harriot resolved the forces acting on the projectile into horizontal and vertical components.
  • Therefore each velocity vector is resolved in a component u in the x-direction and a component v in the y-direction.
  • These water movements and, therefore, the resulting forces can be resolved at each point into vertical and horizontal components.
4 [no object] (Of something seen at a distance) turn into a different form when seen more clearly: the orange light resolved itself into four roadwork lanterns
More example sentences
  • The form resolved itself in Cath's recovering eyes, and it became David.
  • A silhouette resolved itself as he squinted into the afternoon sun.
  • The third shadow had not yet resolved itself, but I knew who it was.
turn into, be transformed into, become clearly visible as, change into, metamorphose into, be transmuted into
4.1 [with object] (Of optical or photographic equipment) separate or distinguish between (closely adjacent objects): Hubble was able to resolve six variable stars in M31
More example sentences
  • If they are separated by more than two millimeters (one-twelfth of an inch) then the telescope can resolve them as being separate, at least in principle.
  • These were visual binaries - stars that could be resolved by eye using a good instrument.
  • With the aid of his telescope, Galileo could resolve thousands of new stars which were invisible to the naked eye.
4.2 [with object] Separately distinguish (peaks in a graph or spectrum).
Example sentences
  • For the detector to resolve two peaks, one pixel between the two peaks must receive a lower signal than its neighbors.
  • However, the longer acquisition time is compensated by the information that can be extracted from the spatially resolved spectra.
  • This method was used to resolve the monoanion spectra in a range of solvent-water mixtures.


1 [mass noun] Firm determination to do something: she received information that strengthened her resolve
More example sentences
  • Having taken our decision, this country will now pursue our aims with firm resolve and with determination.
  • This will require our country to unite in steadfast determination and resolve.
  • Very few of us have that firm resolve in ourselves to do what we are really passionate about.
determination, resolution, firmness of purpose, fixity of purpose, purpose, purposefulness, resoluteness, single-mindedness, strength of will, strength of character, will power, firmness, intentness, decision, decidedness;
steadfastness, staunchness, manfulness, perseverance, persistence, indefatigability, tenacity, tenaciousness, staying power, strong-mindedness, backbone, dedication, commitment, constancy, the bulldog spirit, pertinacity, pertinaciousness;
stubbornness, doggedness, obstinacy, obdurateness, obduracy, inflexibility;
spiritedness, braveness, bravery, boldness, courage, courageousness, pluck, pluckiness, stout-heartedness;
German Sitzfleisch
informal guts, spunk, grit, stickability
North American informal stick-to-it-iveness
archaic intension
rare perseveration
decision, resolution, commitment, intention;
2US A formal resolution by a legislative body or public meeting.
Example sentences
  • A resolution does not carry any force of law; it expresses the resolve of a legislative body by drawing attention and awareness to an important subject.
  • The successful outcome of this dispute will also serve as a warning to management who doubted the resolve of union members.
  • Meanwhile the resolve of some 18,000 engineers and technical workers to continue walking the picket lines remains strong.



Pronunciation: /rɪzɒlvəˈbɪlɪti/
Example sentences
  • But in Timor's case, the facts of the situation made it an eminently resolvable problem, and one of my complaints about the media would be its failure to articulate the underlying facts and their resolvability.
  • Because of the limited resolvability of complex decays available from all instruments, these nonexponential intensity decays can be equally well fit to the multiexponential decay law.
  • Also note that ‘resolvability’ is defined on pairs of sites, rather than on double heterozygotes.


Pronunciation: /rɪˈzɒlvəb(ə)l/
Example sentences
  • Some disputes might, by law, not be arbitrable - for instance, child custody disputes might not be fully resolvable by arbitration, because they involve the interest of the children, who have not agreed to the arbitration.
  • Equally, international diplomacy generally assumes that any dispute is ultimately resolvable through compromise and negotiation.
  • Neither question is analytically resolvable: the answers turn on value judgments, not analytical findings.


Pronunciation: /rɪˈzɒlvə/
Example sentences
  • Conflict resolvers try to work with both or many sides on many levels, in order to bring long-term peace and justice through mutual acknowledgement of the other sides' interests and needs.
  • What is required to be a successful resolver of personnel disputes is not the same as what is required to be good operationally; do you agree?
  • Successful resolvers controlled their environments, avoided situations that might lead them to relapse and rewarded themselves for changing.


Late Middle English (in the senses 'dissolve, disintegrate' and 'solve (a problem)'): from Latin resolvere, from re- (expressing intensive force) + solvere 'loosen'.

  • solve from Late Middle English:

    The early senses of solve were ‘loosen, dissolve, untie’; the source is Latin solvere ‘loosen, unfasten’. Other words sharing this base are late Middle English soluble and solution, and mid 17th century solvent. From the same Latin root come absolve (Late Middle English) ‘loosen from’; dissolve (Late Middle English) ‘loosen apart’; dissolute (Late Middle English) of loose morals; and resolve (Late Middle English) ‘thoroughly loosen’.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: re|solve

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