The prefix re-:
word-forming element meaning "back to the original place; again, anew, once more," also with a sense of "undoing," c. 1200, from Old French and directly from Latin re- ".
Often merely intensive, and in many of the older borrowings from French and Latin the precise sense of re- is lost in secondary senses or weakened beyond recognition. OED writes that it is "impossible to attempt a complete record of all the forms resulting from its use," and adds that "The number of these is practically infinite...".
The meaning appears to derive from the adjective "resolute", from which the current sense of resolve. The prefix re- in resolve appears to be an intensifier rather than suggest a reiteration:
late 14c., "melt, dissolve, reduce to liquid;" intransitive sense from c. 1400; from Old French resolver or directly from Latin resolvere "to loosen, loose, unyoke, undo; explain.
- From early 15c. as "separate into components," hence the use in optics (1785). Meaning "determine, decide upon" is from 1520s, hence "pass a resolution" (1580s). For sense evolution, compare resolute (adj.)
- early 15c., "dissolved, of loose structure," also "morally lax," from Latin resolutus, past participle of resolvere "untie, unfasten, loose, loosen" (see resolve). Meaning "determined, decided, absolute, final" is from c. 1500, especially in resolute answer, a phrase "common in 16th c." [OED].
Resolve vs solve, usage:
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.
Solve is a verb which means to find a solution to a problem or mystery.
- Solve and resolve may be used interchangeably when describing finding a logical, correct and successful solution to a problem or mystery.