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A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

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First published 1990 (DOST Vol. VII).

Resolve, v. Also: -solwe, -solf; -soll, -soul. [ME and e.m.E. resolue(n (Chaucer), L. resolvere, f. re- and solvere to loosen, dissolve. In the later dial., also as rezol, resoal.]In Sc. until the latter part of the 16th c. appar. an occasional borrowing, and not developing the range of meaning found in English, esp. in the etymological senses.

1. tr. a. To cause to melt. b. To reduce into a fluid state.a. 1531 Bell. 1531 Boece I xxxvi.
In fiffe ar won blak stanis, quhilk … quhen thay ar kendillit … resolve and meltis irne
b. 1604 James VI Minor Prose 91/20.
All smoake and vapour, being of it selfe humide … and easie to be resolued againe into water

2. To separate (a thing) in (to) its elements; to dissolve or consume in some other physical form; to disintegrate.Freq. in renderings of Boece. 1531 Bell. 1531 Boece I viii.
Of thaim [sc. the elements] ar maid all levand creature And finalie in thaim resolvit ar
Ib. xlix.
That all the rutis and treis that growis in the said ilis ar … to be …, be nature of the seis, resolvit in geis
Ib. II 162.
His staf tuk neid-fire, and micht nocht be slokinnit quhil it wes resolvit to nocht
Id. Livy I 85/33.
Becaus the stoupis and pillaris thareof war all of tre, they war haistelie brynt and resoluit in powder
1533 Boece 338b.
And … thare his body was resoluit [L. soluisse]

b. fig. or in fig. context. a1499 Contempl. Sinn. 939 (Harl.).
Ask at God thin hard hert to resolue In teris
Ib. 1179 (Asl.).
Bot for to speike … Off hell the passing pane … suld herd hartis be repentans resolf
1531 Bell. 1531 Boece II 206.
King Duffus … was resolvit in ane continewal sweit
1533 Boece 287b.
He persauit the king resoluit in slepe
a1538 Abell 53a.
He considirit his wikkit life & wes resoluit in teris
a1568 Bann. in Bann. MS 231a/41.
With … cairis pungetyve Quhairthrow my blude resoluit is in teiris

3. a. To expound, rehearse or analyse (an argument). b. To answer (a question), solve (a problem).a. a1500 Henr. Fab. 1218.
Contra et pro, strait argumentis [Bann. argument] thay resolue [Bann. resoll], Sum a doctryne and sum a nothir hald
b. 1596 Dalr. II 32/26.
Neuir was a king quha with gretter wisdome resoluet hard and difficle questiounis

4. To free (a person) of doubt or perplexity.Also without const. 1567 Sat. P. vii 95.
Sum douts thair is of quhilk …, Gif laser lat, I wald resoluit be
1567 Reg. Privy C. I 515.
That thai being certifiit of the veritie may be resolvit of all doubt and secludand errour
1568 Ib. 629.
It is thocht convenient to resolve all personis of the same, that nane heireftir sall pretend occasioun of ignorance
a1585 Maitl. Q. 201/19.
Sumtyme vaine wryteris red I to resolue Me of my folische fantasie
1597 James VI Dæmonol. (S.T.S.) xix.
To preasse … to resolue the doubting harts of many

5. To decide (to do something); to settle upon (a course of action). 1586–7 Reg. Privy C. IV 143.
The kingis majestie … hes … resolvit … that the same personis salbe committit to warde
1604 Ib. VII 11.
Johnne Colquhoun … resolved to persew them [sc. Clan Gregour] with his haill force
1611 Conflicts in Misc. Scot. I 67.
Some wine and other provision, which he had resolved to buy from the marinells
c1630 Bk. Carlaverock II 120.
But in … nothing … I will resolve anything untill I hear from your lordship
1666 Bk. Pasquils 233.
Some with a Lochaber axe Resolved to gie Dalziel his paiks
(b) 1615 Denmylne MSS in Highland P. III 248.
In end it wes resoulit [sic], etc.

b. reflex. To come to a decision. 1580 Hay in Cath. Tr. 70/9.
Gywe thy awin iudgeament is nocht sufficient to resolwe thy self be sick meanes as I haiw declared

6. To inform or tell (a person) of something.Also const. clause object, and without const.(1) 1597 James VI Dæmonol. (S.T.S.) 1/2.
That ye can better resolue me of some thing whereof I stand in great doubt, nor anie other
c1602 Lett. Jas. VI to Bruce 288.
Quhithir gif he be throuchlie resolvit nou of the forme and manir of that treasonable attempt comittit againis his majestie at Perth
1632 Lithgow Trav. x 451.
He went back, resolving them of my stiffe denyall
(2) 1568 Anderson Collect. Mary IV ii 56.
We desir to be resolvit quhether ye haife … sufficient authoritie … to pronunce … giltie or not giltie
1597 James VI Dæmonol. (S.T.S.) 25/1.
This diuision being wel vnderstood will easilie resolue you what is possible to them to doe
1615 Denmylne MSS in Highland P. III 227.
The larde … wes … send for to resolue the counsall what burdyn he wold vndertak … to [etc.]
1622-6 Bisset I 27/12.
The vys senate and consules … resolved the emperiour that [etc.]
(3) 1617 Melrose P. 274.
If any … wer curious to know the particulars, your thesaurar depute sould glaidlie resolue them

7. To convince or assure (a person) (of something or that something is the case). a1570-86 Maitl. F. 421/80.
Ȝour resoune rype will rychtly ȝow resolwe
1597 James VI Dæmonol. (S.T.S.) 47/5.
The rules of philosophie may easelie resolue a man of the contrarie
Id. Basil. Doron 30/10.
Gif my conscience had not resolued me that all my religion uas groundit upon … scripture

8. intr. To thaw out. 1531 Bell. 1531 Boece I xxxiii.
Nothir fresis the water of Lochtie, … and … ony frosin thing that is cassin in it meltis and resolvis hastelie
1558-66 Knox II 417.
The foules … freisit; … sum wer … laid besyde the fyre that thair fetheris mycht resolve

9. To undergo dissolution or separation into elements; to change (in)to, in some other form or state.Also with infin. compl. 1531 Bell. 1531 Boece I ix.
Ane man … Quhen he is deid, the mateir dois remane, Thoucht it resolve in to sum new maneir
1584-9 Maxwall Commonpl. Bk. Proverb No. 6.
The finest meates that be, … in extremetie of sicknes, resolue not to be pure blood … bot to watrish humors

b. fig. or in fig. context. 1533 Boece 288.
Occa … resoluit in blythnes sen he knewe surelie Ambrois was deceissit
1600-1610 Melvill 219.
Mr. James … falls in a heavie disease, quhilk resolved in a melancolius dysenterie

10. To make up one's mind; to take a firm decision.(1) 1587 Cal. Sc. P. IX 248.
The most Hie … mott give you grace so to resolve in this maitter as may be most honorabill for you
1581-1623 James VI Poems I 215/129.
Euery man … so resolues uith bolde magnanime hairtis
1684 Dunkeld Presb. I 466.
Wherefor he is allowed and appointed to resolve against the next meeting peremptorie
(2) 1606 Birnie Kirk-b. Pref.
So long as ye resolue to loyalize the loue of your soule to the Lord
1627 Justiciary Cases I 75.
[He] resoluet with him self to be revendget thairof
1644 Aberd. B. Rec. IV 20.
The counsell … resoluit all in ane voice … to declair … that [etc.]

b. To resolve on (a person), to decide to choose. 1648 Strathbogie Presb. 91.
That the presbytrie … resolued yet again on Mr. William Kininmont

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"Resolve v.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 30 Jun 2022 <>



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