Absolve vs resolve

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Absolve and resolve are two words that are often confused. We will examine the definitions of absolve and resolve, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Absolve means to declare that a person is guiltless, that a person is free of obligation or that a person does not deserve to be punished. In a religious sense, absolve is the process of forgiving someone for a sin. Absolve is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are absolves, absolved, absolving. The word absolve is derived from the Latin absolvere which means to acquit or to free.

Resolve may be used as a noun to describe a firm intention. Resolve may be used as a verb to mean (1) to decide a course of action as an individual or in an assembly by formal vote (2) to break into separate elements and analyze (3) to bring to a conclusion, not necessarily a popular or successful conclusion (4) to find a solution to a problem or mystery. Related words are resolves, resolved, resolving. The word resolve is derived from the Latin word resolvere which means to loosen or undo.


DEBATE on a Bill to absolve certain national heroes and their supporters of criminal liability started in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. (The Jamaica Observer)

The farmer unions cannot absolve themselves of their responsibility. (The Tribune)

A fresh bid by the United Nations to resolve the Western Sahara dispute has taken former German President Horst Köhler to Algiers. (The Deutsche Welle)

Qatar is “open to dialogue” in resolving a dispute that has seen the Gulf state isolated from its Arab neighbors, its emir said during a visit to Indonesia on Wednesday. (Reuters)