Resolution •

Pronunciation: re-zê-lu-shên • Hear it! 

Part of Speech: Noun 

Meaning: 1 A dedicated promise or firm commitment or decision to do something.2. A formal decision, rule, or law. 3. A solution or means of ending a problem oneself. 4. Reduction of a substance to its elementary constituents, as the resolution of sunlight into different colors. 5. Fineness of detail, as a high-resolution video screen. 6. Coming together and clarification, as the resolution of the plot of a novel.


Word History: Despite the fact that New Year’s resolutions tend to tie us down, the word originates in the Latin verb resolvere “to untie”, made up of re- “again” + solvere “to loosen, untie”. Solvere comes from Proto-Indo-European leu- “to loosen, divide” with an ancient prefix su- “apart,” giving su-leu-, which evolved into Latinsolv- plus the verbal endings like the infinitive ending, -ere seen here. 

The same root came to Germanic without the prefix but with a suffix -s, filtering down to us as lose and less. It also turned up in Old Norse as louss “loose”, which we borrowed from the Vikings as our very own adjective, loose.