What does the term resolution mean?

The New Year is finally here and we are geared up to seize the day, be healthier, listen better, be more thankful and appreciate our families more and so on. These decisions to change for the better are most commonly known as New Year resolutions, and we all tend to have at least one of them for the New Year. That’s why I thought it would be exciting to have a look at the etymology and history behind the word and tradition.

The word resolution has several meanings. It can be used as a measure of digital audio quality and optically as a measure for distance between two distinguishable radiating points. It’s also a term used about the cleavage and rejoining (recombination-) steps within a DNA-intermediate forming and releasing two product molecules. These are all real explanations or conceptual contents of the term resolution. Nevertheless, the term is mostly combined with two other words: new and year.

Taking the term resolution back to its origins might be tough since it is currently used within several fields of knowledge, and since the mentioned terms are just three out of 20 more conceptual concepts! However I will give it a go.

Some etymology
Most likely the word resolution derives from the Latin word resolūtiō which means loosening, untying or release. The English word solution is also “found” in the word resolution and derives from the Latin word solūtiōnis, which figuratively described payment of debts in ancient Rome. Consequently it might be accurate to say that the modern term resolution is a merge of the etymology behind the two words resolve and solution, which explains why we tend to use the term on our changes for the better and chosen challenges in the coming New Year.

New Year Resolution
The challenges and changes we want to make in the New Year are most commonly formed as commitments that a person can make to reach personal goals. And just like the ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods at the start of each year that they would return borrowed objects and pay their debts, we commit to reform our bad habits in the New Year. A key element to the modern New Year’s resolution is the commitment people make to themselves and the plan to stay dedicated through the following year.

In case you haven’t decided on any New Year resolution yet, then what about looking for something pre-owned before buying anything new like @gatherwell and @newbhomesteader suggest on Twitter? Or how about learning a new language like Asia suggested in yesterday’s Lexiophiles article Language-related New Year Resolutions – A three-step plan?

No matter what your resolutions for 2013 are (or will be) – Good luck, and stay committed!


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