Definition of resolve in English:



  • 1[with object] Settle or find a solution to (a problem or contentious matter)

    ‘the firm aims to resolve problems within 30 days’
    • ‘Because we take all such matters very seriously, we immediately resolved the problem, and do not expect it to be an issue going forward.’
    • ‘She could only talk to a salesman, who gave her another number to call - the local delivery firm - before her problem was resolved.’
    • ‘In that case, with the promises made on curbing anti-social behaviour it should only be a matter of a short time before these problems are resolved.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly, these heated discussions did not resolve the matter to anyone's satisfaction.’
    • ‘Through that approach, persons with a dispute in the civil court are given the opportunity to resolve the matter with solutions that they devise.’
    • ‘Police discussions have still not resolved the matter of who will pay the massive costs.’
    • ‘To resolve problems concerning a water treatment unit, first try settling your dispute with the company that sold you the product.’
    • ‘Surely, the right way to resolve these matters is through proper discussion between all the parties involved, and not to try and heap all blame onto one individual in public.’
    • ‘If they fail to resolve the matter within 14 days they get a red card.’
    • ‘Since I was not naming one person, it was clear I had not resolved the matter.’
    • ‘The service aims to give customers the knowledge, tools and confidence to resolve consumer problems themselves.’
    • ‘And I think everyone needs to come together to figure out how to resolve this problem.’
    • ‘There are also plans to establish a temporary cabin in the Market Place area staffed every day to answer queries and resolve problems.’
    • ‘Following the action, the education secretary promised to resolve the problem within two weeks.’
    • ‘There was no reply within that time and the matter was resolved by a letter dated June 25.’
    • ‘The same cast of mind also tended to seek simple, universal formulae to resolve any problem, no matter how complex.’
    • ‘Merely locating the car parking area next to the substation will not resolve the problem.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Sometimes, the most vexed problems are resolved through simple solutions.’
    • ‘She said when the problem was identified, they immediately reverted to the original configuration which resolved the problem within an hour.’
    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
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    1. 1.1Medicine [with object]Cause (a symptom or condition) to heal or subside.
      ‘endoscopic biliary drainage can rapidly resolve jaundice’
      • ‘The first priority of the dentist is to alleviate pain and resolve infection.’
      • ‘A good portion of antibiotic use appears to be for viral or spontaneously resolving bacterial infections.’
      • ‘Both conditions were resolved without recourse to systemic corticosteroid.’
      • ‘Giving capsules to children to resolve dietary deficiencies tells their families the problem is beyond their control.’
      • ‘The patient was treated and the infection was resolved.’
    2. 1.2[no object](of a symptom or condition) heal or subside.
      ‘symptoms resolved after a median of four weeks’
      • ‘Fever may resolve before respiratory symptoms appear.’
      • ‘His respiratory symptoms never fully resolved, and he continued to have a wet-sounding cough and nasal symptoms.’
      • ‘This condition may resolve without symptoms, or it may affect a variety of organs, depending on the patient.’
      • ‘Patients also kept symptom diaries until the condition resolved.’
      • ‘His hypertension and diabetes have resolved and his arthralgia has improved.’
    3. 1.3Music (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’
      • ‘Thus Skalkottas, although continuing the motivic development, follows the essential principle of traditional sonata form and resolves the previous harmonic tensions.’
      • ‘Generally speaking, notes resolve in the direction of their inflection: upward- inflected notes resolve up, and downward-inflected notes resolve down.’
      • ‘Dissonant notes resolve in a conventional way, only to become part of an unexpected chord.’
  • 2[no object] Decide firmly on a course of action.

    [with infinitive] ‘she resolved to ring Dana as soon as she got home’
    • ‘With this firmly resolved in her mind, she slipped from the manor proper and into the courtyard.’
    • ‘John's life has been cloaked in the shadow of this tragedy ever since and he resolves to save his father and alter the course of his own personal history.’
    • ‘How can anger, or any other emotion or feeling, get someone to go against what they have deliberately resolved on doing?’
    • ‘Someday, I resolved firmly, I would make him do something about that ponytail.’
    • ‘I resolved firmly that I would mull all this over later, and that today would not be a complete loss.’
    • ‘Seeing him, but firmly resolving not to speak to him, hurt more than he'd expected.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The same board meeting also resolved on the appointment of a new manager.’
    • ‘I refused to answer it and resolved to let it ring.’
    • ‘Of course, I resolved to eat there as soon as possible.’
    • ‘I immediately harvested all that were left, and resolved even more firmly that I'd demand a greater percentage at our next interspecies conference.’
    • ‘In the mean time, I resolved to let him decide what we should do together, and go along with it unless I thought it would have a negative impact on him somehow.’
    • ‘Having resolved to follow this course of action I contacted both England and Russia and formed an alliance to the detriment of Germany.’
    • ‘I don't really think that Tom is suicidal, but I am concerned that he may have resolved on some form of action without thinking through all the consequences.’
    • ‘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.’
    determine, decide, make up one's mind, take a decision, reach a decision, conclude, come to the conclusion
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    1. 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’
      • ‘The meeting also resolved that there was need for prudent investment policies if the region was to develop economically.’
      • ‘The decision was arrived at after a committee meeting which resolved that missing training is a sign of indiscipline in the sport.’
      • ‘After a heated debate, the meeting resolved to form a committee to consolidate and investigate the origins of the lists.’
      • ‘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.’
      vote, pass a resolution, rule, move, decide formally, agree, undertake
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  • 3Chemistry
    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’
    • ‘Malalignment can be resolved into two components.’
    • ‘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.’
    break down, break up, separate, reduce, decompose, divide
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    1. 3.1[with object]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’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Somehow he resolved these complexities into a single coherent being, and yet was secure enough to have no need to dominate; his willingness to fit into an ensemble of another new generation of actors was estimable.’
      • ‘Edwards first argues that the idea of a body can be resolved into ideas of color and resistance.’
      analyse, dissect, break down, anatomize
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    2. 3.2Physics [with object]Analyse (a force or velocity) into components acting in particular directions.
      • ‘Therefore each velocity vector is resolved in a component u in the x-direction and a component v in the y-direction.’
      • ‘Harriot resolved the forces acting on the projectile into horizontal and vertical components.’
      • ‘In general, ripples could only be resolved when the force was at an absolute minimum.’
      • ‘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’
    • ‘A silhouette resolved itself as he squinted into the afternoon sun.’
    • ‘The form resolved itself in Cath's recovering eyes, and it became David.’
    • ‘Poetically, the tapestry resolved itself as his eye grated into the lens.’
    • ‘The shadow moved forwards again, and resolved itself into a petite girl.’
    • ‘He was stopped by a blur from nowhere that resolved itself into Yogu.’
    • ‘The deep blue silhouette resolved itself into metallic greys as they got closer.’
    • ‘The world around her resolved itself into sharp focus, and the rainbows faded away from her eyes.’
    • ‘The spidery script up its side resolved itself in just a moment to form a word.’
    • ‘A faint glow at the far end resolved itself into the lights of two lanterns.’
    • ‘She flinched away from a flare of white light, which slowly resolved itself into her bedroom.’
    • ‘It grew in intensity, and resolved itself into a streak of fire descending to the planet's surface.’
    • ‘The mass of white resolved itself into a human form that Williams recognized as a woman.’
    • ‘The bluish region had now resolved itself into what appeared to be a tunnel, vanishing to infinity in the distance.’
    • ‘Before them was a hint of glimmer that slowly resolved itself into a stripe of blue: the sea.’
    • ‘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
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    1. 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’
      • ‘A feeble star nearby looks the same as a very bright star far away, since stars, in general, cannot be resolved even by the most powerful telescopes.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With the aid of his telescope, Galileo could resolve thousands of new stars which were invisible to the naked eye.’
      • ‘These were visual binaries - stars that could be resolved by eye using a good instrument.’
      • ‘For the first time, he was able to resolve individual stars in the Andromeda Galaxy.’
    2. 4.2[with object]Separately distinguish (peaks in a graph or spectrum).
      • ‘This method was used to resolve the monoanion spectra in a range of solvent-water mixtures.’
      • ‘Their photobleaching behavior was studied using spectrally resolved emission spectroscopy.’
      • ‘However, the longer acquisition time is compensated by the information that can be extracted from the spatially resolved spectra.’
      • ‘These methods give rise to well resolved spectra of the protein but do not provide information about noncovalent lipid binding interactions.’
      • ‘For the detector to resolve two peaks, one pixel between the two peaks must receive a lower signal than its neighbors.’


  • 1[mass noun] Firm determination to do something.

    ‘she received information that strengthened her resolve’
    • ‘My resolve hardened and in one smooth motion I pushed open the door.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I could feel my knees buckling and my resolve melting.’
    • ‘We showed our cast iron resolve in this matter.’
    • ‘Instead of brushing up on their excuses, they should try stiffening their resolve.’
    • ‘But this side showed great resolve and conviction and by the interval had drawn level.’
    • ‘He won the first two frames and lost the third, which hardened his resolve.’
    • ‘Leaders demonstrate unwavering resolve and set high standards for building great organizations, settling for nothing less.’
    • ‘His steadfastness and resolve in the face of his critics are deserving of praise.’
    • ‘Now I knew: She'd become a woman of iron resolve.’
    • ‘And strikes can backfire: lack of public support can stiffen government resolve.’
    • ‘And we fulfill our new role with a steely inner resolve regardless of what others may think.’
    • ‘Though outwardly he was composed, inwardly his resolve wavered.’
    • ‘Her resolve instantly melting, Beth smiled at him and pulled out a chair.’
    • ‘Firm resolve showed in the set of his jaw as he picked her up gently.’
    • ‘Joe's resolve crumbled further as he nearly shook with rage.’
    • ‘There is no haste but only a firm resolve to complete the work in time.’
    • ‘I'm not sure whether my resolve is strengthened or destroyed by this.’
    • ‘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
    decision, resolution, commitment, intention
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  • 2US A formal resolution by a legislative body or public meeting.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘We saw that the NATO members added their resolve to the resolve of the United States.’
    • ‘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.’


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