Definition of resolve in US English:



  • 1with object Settle or find a solution to (a problem, dispute, or contentious matter)

    ‘the firm aims to resolve problems within 30 days’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Through that approach, persons with a dispute in the civil court are given the opportunity to resolve the matter with solutions that they devise.’
    • ‘The same cast of mind also tended to seek simple, universal formulae to resolve any problem, no matter how complex.’
    • ‘If they fail to resolve the matter within 14 days they get a red card.’
    • ‘She could only talk to a salesman, who gave her another number to call - the local delivery firm - before her problem was resolved.’
    • ‘To resolve problems concerning a water treatment unit, first try settling your dispute with the company that sold you the product.’
    • ‘She said when the problem was identified, they immediately reverted to the original configuration which resolved the problem within an hour.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘There was no reply within that time and the matter was resolved by a letter dated June 25.’
    • ‘Since I was not naming one person, it was clear I had not resolved the matter.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Police discussions have still not resolved the matter of who will pay the massive costs.’
    • ‘Not surprisingly, these heated discussions did not resolve the matter to anyone's satisfaction.’
    • ‘The service aims to give customers the knowledge, tools and confidence to resolve consumer problems themselves.’
    • ‘Because we take all such matters very seriously, we immediately resolved the problem, and do not expect it to be an issue going forward.’
    • ‘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.’
    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 disperse, subside, or heal.
      ‘endoscopic biliary drainage can rapidly resolve jaundice’
      • ‘The patient was treated and the infection was resolved.’
      • ‘A good portion of antibiotic use appears to be for viral or spontaneously resolving bacterial infections.’
      • ‘Giving capsules to children to resolve dietary deficiencies tells their families the problem is beyond their control.’
      • ‘Both conditions were resolved without recourse to systemic corticosteroid.’
      • ‘The first priority of the dentist is to alleviate pain and resolve infection.’
    2. 1.2no object (of a symptom or condition) disperse, subside, or heal.
      ‘symptoms resolved after a median of four weeks’
      • ‘His hypertension and diabetes have resolved and his arthralgia has improved.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Patients also kept symptom diaries until the condition resolved.’
      • ‘His respiratory symptoms never fully resolved, and he continued to have a wet-sounding cough and nasal symptoms.’
    3. 1.3Music no object (of a discord) lead into a concord during the course of harmonic change.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Thus Skalkottas, although continuing the motivic development, follows the essential principle of traditional sonata form and resolves the previous harmonic tensions.’
    4. 1.4Music with object Cause (a discord) to pass into a concord.
  • 2no object Decide firmly on a course of action.

    with infinitive ‘she resolved to call Dana as soon as she got home’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘Having resolved to follow this course of action I contacted both England and Russia and formed an alliance to the detriment of Germany.’
    • ‘I resolved firmly that I would mull all this over later, and that today would not be a complete loss.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Someday, I resolved firmly, I would make him do something about that ponytail.’
    • ‘The same board meeting also resolved on the appointment of a new manager.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I refused to answer it and resolved to let it ring.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘With this firmly resolved in her mind, she slipped from the manor proper and into the courtyard.’
    determine, decide, make up one's mind, take a decision, reach a decision, conclude, come to the conclusion
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    1. 2.1with clause (of a legislative body, committee, or other formal meeting) make a decision by a formal vote.
      with infinitive ‘the conference resolved to support an alliance’
      ‘the committee resolved that teachers should make their recommendations without knowledge of test scores’
      • ‘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 components.

    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For example, in relaxed myofibrils, it was unclear whether each Tmod striation could be unambiguously resolved into separate thin filament profiles.’
    break down, break up, separate, reduce, decompose, divide
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    1. 3.1resolve something intowith 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.’
      • ‘Edwards first argues that the idea of a body can be resolved into ideas of color and resistance.’
      • ‘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.’
      analyse, dissect, break down, anatomize
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    2. 3.2Physics with object Analyze (a force or velocity) into components acting in particular directions.
      • ‘In general, ripples could only be resolved when the force was at an absolute minimum.’
      • ‘Harriot resolved the forces acting on the projectile into horizontal and vertical components.’
      • ‘These water movements and, therefore, the resulting forces can be resolved at each point into vertical and horizontal components.’
      • ‘Therefore each velocity vector is resolved in a component u in the x-direction and a component v in the y-direction.’
  • 4no object (of something seen at a distance) turn into a different form when seen more clearly.

    ‘the orange glow resolved itself into four lanterns’
    • ‘The shadow moved forwards again, and resolved itself into a petite girl.’
    • ‘A silhouette resolved itself as he squinted into the afternoon sun.’
    • ‘Poetically, the tapestry resolved itself as his eye grated into the lens.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It grew in intensity, and resolved itself into a streak of fire descending to the planet's surface.’
    • ‘The third shadow had not yet resolved itself, but I knew who it was.’
    • ‘Before them was a hint of glimmer that slowly resolved itself into a stripe of blue: the sea.’
    • ‘A faint glow at the far end resolved itself into the lights of two lanterns.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘The form resolved itself in Cath's recovering eyes, and it became David.’
    • ‘She flinched away from a flare of white light, which slowly resolved itself into her bedroom.’
    turn into, be transformed into, become clearly visible as, change into, metamorphose into, be transmuted into
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    1. 4.1with object (of optical or photographic equipment) separate or distinguish between (closely adjacent objects)
      ‘Hubble was able to resolve six variable stars in M31’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘With the aid of his telescope, Galileo could resolve thousands of new stars which were invisible to the naked eye.’
    2. 4.2with object Separately distinguish (peaks in a graph or spectrum).
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘These methods give rise to well resolved spectra of the protein but do not provide information about noncovalent lipid binding interactions.’
      • ‘Their photobleaching behavior was studied using spectrally resolved emission spectroscopy.’


  • 1Firm determination to do something.

    ‘she received information that strengthened her resolve’
    ‘she intended to stick to her initial resolve’
    • ‘I could feel my knees buckling and my resolve melting.’
    • ‘Leaders demonstrate unwavering resolve and set high standards for building great organizations, settling for nothing less.’
    • ‘And we fulfill our new role with a steely inner resolve regardless of what others may think.’
    • ‘His steadfastness and resolve in the face of his critics are deserving of praise.’
    • ‘He won the first two frames and lost the third, which hardened his resolve.’
    • ‘Instead of brushing up on their excuses, they should try stiffening their resolve.’
    • ‘My resolve hardened and in one smooth motion I pushed open the door.’
    • ‘This will require our country to unite in steadfast determination and resolve.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Firm resolve showed in the set of his jaw as he picked her up gently.’
    • ‘Very few of us have that firm resolve in ourselves to do what we are really passionate about.’
    • ‘Having taken our decision, this country will now pursue our aims with firm resolve and with determination.’
    • ‘But this side showed great resolve and conviction and by the interval had drawn level.’
    • ‘Now I knew: She'd become a woman of iron resolve.’
    • ‘Though outwardly he was composed, inwardly his resolve wavered.’
    • ‘And strikes can backfire: lack of public support can stiffen government resolve.’
    • ‘Her resolve instantly melting, Beth smiled at him and pulled out a chair.’
    • ‘We showed our cast iron resolve in this matter.’
    • ‘I'm not sure whether my resolve is strengthened or destroyed by this.’
    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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    1. 1.1US A formal resolution by a legislative body or public meeting.
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The successful outcome of this dispute will also serve as a warning to management who doubted the resolve of union members.’


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