• resolution •
Pronunciation: re-zê-lu-shên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A dedicated promise and firm commitment to do something. 2. A formal decision, rule, or law. 3. A solution or means of ending a problem. 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. Clarification, as 'the resolution of the plot of a novel'.
Notes: Today's Good Word is the noun of the verb resolve, which can also be used as a noun meaning "firm commitment", as 'to carry out your New Year's resolutions with resolve'. The verb has several adjectives, including resolutive and resolvable, usually referring to problems or substances that can be resolved. Resolutional is a new adjective now used quite widely in referring to the resolution of video screens: high-resolutional screens.
In Play: alphaDictionary's resolutions for 2018 are to avoid words like today's with so many meanings and not to make any more resolutions. Others will continue to make resolutions to lose weight, give up smoking, and the like. Some resolutions have the force of law: "Did you hear about the Congressional resolution to make April Fool's Day a national holiday?" A resolution to avoid partisan conflict in Congress would be more useful.
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 Latin solv- plus the verbal endings like the infinitive ending, -ere, seen here. The same root came to the Germanic languages 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.