Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


to make a firm decision to do something

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary.

Origin and usage

The verb resolve is a borrowing from the Latin verb ‘resolvere’ which has many meanings, including to loosen, to undo and to release. It was first used in English to mean ‘to make a decision’ towards the end of the 14th century. The noun is later, dating from the end of the 16th century.


This is the time of year when many people resolve to change their lives in big or small ways. Many publications produce lists of New Year’s resolutions for those unable to come up with their own. These may range from sweeping changes such as embarking on a new career or (in one article I read)  ‘summoning your inner revolutionary’ to more down-to-earth goals such as ‘read more books’ or ‘eat more vegetables’. While resolutions may be easy to make, they are notoriously hard to stick to. Sticking to your goals requires resolve, which may be in short supply at the coldest, darkest time of the year. Indeed, some experts recommend deferring any major lifestyle changes to a later period of the year, when the weather is milder and life is generally easier.


Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”
(Helen Keller)

Resolve not to be poor: whatever you have, spend less.
(Samuel Johnson)

Related words

decide, determine, commit

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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