verb (used with object), re·solved, re·solv·ing.

  1. to come to a definite or earnest decision about; determine (to do something): I have resolved that I shall live to the full.
  2. to separate into constituent or elementary parts; break up; cause or disintegrate (usually followed by into).
  3. to reduce or convert by, or as by, breaking up or disintegration (usually followed by to or into).
  4. to convert or transform by any process (often used reflexively).
  5. to reduce by mental analysis (often followed by into).
  6. to settle, determine, or state in a formal vote or formal expression of opinion or intention, as of a deliberative assembly.
  7. to deal with (a question, a matter of uncertainty, etc.) conclusively; settle; solve: to resolve the question before the board.
  8. to clear away or dispel (doubts, fears, etc.); answer: to resolve any doubts we may have had.
  9. Chemistry. to separate (a racemic mixture) into optically active components.
  10. Music. to cause (a voice part or the harmony as a whole) to progress from a dissonance to a consonance.
  11. Optics. to separate and make visible the individual parts of (an image); distinguish between.
  12. Medicine/Medical. to cause (swellings, inflammation, etc.) to disappear without suppuration.

verb (used without object), re·solved, re·solv·ing.

  1. to come to a determination; make up one’s mind; determine (often followed by on or upon): to resolve on a plan of action.
  2. to break up or disintegrate.
  3. to be reduced or changed by breaking up or otherwise (usually followed by to or into).
  4. Music. to progress from a dissonance to a consonance.


  1. a resolution or determination made, as to follow some course of action.
  2. firmness of purpose or intent; determination.

verb (mainly tr)

  1. (takes a clause as object or an infinitive) to decide or determine firmly
  2. to express (an opinion) formally, esp (of a public meeting) one agreed by a vote
  3. (also intr usually foll by into) to separate or cause to separate (into) (constituent parts or elements)
  4. (usually reflexive) to change, alter, or appear to change or alterthe ghost resolved itself into a tree
  5. to make up the mind of; cause to decidethe tempest resolved him to stay at home
  6. to find the answer or solution to; solveto resolve a problem
  7. to explain away or dispelto resolve a doubt
  8. to bring to an end; concludeto resolve an argument
  9. med to cause (a swelling or inflammation) to subside, esp without the formation of pus
  10. (also intr) to follow (a dissonant note or chord) or (of a dissonant note or chord) to be followed by one producing a consonance
  11. chem to separate (a racemic mixture) into its optically active constituents
  12. physics
    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
  13. maths to split (a vector) into its components in specified directions
  14. an obsolete word for dissolve


  1. something determined or decided; resolutionhe had made a resolve to work all day
  2. firmness of purpose; determinationnothing can break his 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.).


  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.
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