I use the number of results in a Google search of a phrase as a rough estimate of its usage. I googled all three and got:

  • "finish an overdue project" — 1920 results
  • "complete an overdue project" — 140 results
  • "resolve an overdue project" — 0 results

I feel that resolve is the most appropriate word in this context since one of its definitions according to Merriam-Webster is:

4 a : to deal with successfully : clear up

And according to the Google dictionary:

1 Settle or find a solution to (a problem, dispute, or contentious matter)

However, I am worried that this is not standard usage due to the number of Google search results.

closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, StoneyB, coleopterist, tchrist, MetaEd Oct 14 '12 at 4:54

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


A project is not usually regarded as a dispute or a contentious issue. You don't typically resolve a project, but you might resolve a problem within a project, as the project heads toward completion.

For example:

After the drainage problem was resolved, the construction project came to a close.

Lateness, in and of itself, isn't an issue that needs to be resolved. Perhaps the schedule needs to be resolved, but that's not the same as resolving the project.

  • 2
    Generally speaking, you resolve the issue that makes the project late. That's why you're not finding "resolve an overdue project" in your searches. [this comment was made in response to a question that has since disappeared]. – J.R. Apr 14 '12 at 22:53
  • +1: Yes, things that need to be "resolved" are usually "disputes / contentious issues, or problems". Lateness itself doesn't fall into any relevant category - OP is being misled by the fact that unresolved issues are frequently cited as the reason why a project hasn't been completed on schedule (as an excuse, by the very people whose job it is to identify and resolve such issues, imho! :). – FumbleFingers Apr 14 '12 at 23:04

Finish and complete are both appropriate, but are not particularly suited to the project and its overdue nature.

Resolve would only be appropriate if the project were subject to some conflict or contention, and even then, it would be more appropriate if directed at that quality or object directly instead of the overdue project itself.

Colloquially, one might say they "made up an overdue project," in the sense that they are "making up" or compensating for their tardiness.

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