I’m now reading a book titled “Competitive Debate – The Official Guide” by Richard E. Edward. In it, there is the following sentence:

The topic for public forum debate are selected by a comitee of the NFL. --- Some public forum topics have been resolutions of fact: “Resolved: The United States is losing the War on Terror.” Some topics have been solution value: “Resolved: The costs of legalized casino gambling in the U.S. outweigh the benefits” “Resolved: The United States should issue guest worker visas to illegal aliens.”

In all of the above examples, for what meaning is “Resolved” used? I gusess “Resolved” means “Question to be resolved.” But I don’t understand why it (Resolve) is used in past participle form, not in noun form, and why not using a word like “the debate subject” “theme”, “issue”,“agenda” or even “Resolution required”?

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    I find the form a bit strange, too. It's important to note that the form is intentionally asymmetric: it isn't saying "here's the topic we'll discuss", it's stating a position for people to either agree with or disagree with.
    – Henry
    Jan 13, 2011 at 0:05
  • Definitely more American usage than anything else! I daresay nowhere else in the English-speaking world is this used. You're more likely to here motion, etc, elsewhere.
    – Jimi Oke
    Jan 13, 2011 at 4:31
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    @Jimi Oke: In the UK you're more likely to see "This house believes..." as the debate title. Jan 13, 2011 at 10:24
  • @Daniel Roseman: Cool. I guess it's not too difficult to see how "This house believes..." and "Resolved..." are related. And I meant to type "hear", by the way. (Embarrassing error!)
    – Jimi Oke
    Jan 13, 2011 at 10:42
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    I don't know about this forum, but on lots of technical forums solved or resolved attached to a topic with a question mean the answer to the question has been found. These seeking to help others need not visit such questions, these seeking answers won't find them in topics without such a tag.
    – SF.
    Nov 14, 2012 at 15:03

6 Answers 6


As per Bartelby's:

In 1876 General Henry M. Robert set out to bring the rules of the American Congress to members of ordinary societies with the publication of Pocket Manual of Rules of Order. It sold half a million copies before this revision of 1915 and made Robert’s name synonymous with the orderly rule of reason in deliberative societies.

In Chapter 4:

When a main motion is of such importance or length as to be in writing it is usually written in the form of a resolution; that is, beginning with the words, “Resolved, That,” the word “Resolved” being underscored (printed in italics) and followed by a comma, and the word “That” beginning with a capital “T.”

So, because Robert’s Rules of Order have been a popular framework for American "deliberative societies" they have been adapted and applied to formal debate, so much so that Resolved has become the go-to word to begin your thesis.

  • Thank you Ghoppe for providing me an excerpt from Robert's rule book for debate. So it's not an issue of grammar i.e. tense of verb, but how to frame it. Right? - Yoichi Jan 18, 2011 at 0:39
  • @Yoichi Exactly. Since you are putting forth a resolution that is what is "resolved."
    – ghoppe
    Jan 18, 2011 at 15:48
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    When I learned Robert's Rules of Order ages ago (they actually taught that in high school!), I learned that "resolved" is short for "be it resolved" -- this statement is the proposition that we will debate and vote on. Dec 13, 2011 at 20:58
  • @MonicaCellio That is correct, but technically the "be it" part is the last words of the preamble. See the Chapter 4 link above which states: The preamble should never contain a period, but each paragraph should close with a comma or semicolon, followed by “and,” except the last paragraph, which should close with the word “therefore,” or “therefore, be it.”
    – ghoppe
    Dec 13, 2011 at 21:26

It's just a way of announcing a topic (i.e. a resolution) which will be debated. According to Wikipedia:

In policy debate, a resolution or topic is a normative statement which the affirmative team affirms and the negative team negates. Resolutions are selected annually by affiliated schools.

  • Robusto. Thank you for your answer. Still it bothers me why they use 'Resolution (to be debated)' as defined by Wikipedia in the form of past-participle, "Resolved," which appears to me odd, even before the debate taking place. Is it just a 'normative way' of saying? - Yoichi Jan 12, 2011 at 23:05
  • @Yoichi Look at it from this point of view: since you are debating one side of the issue, your position (opinion) is resolved, and that is what you are affirming.
    – ghoppe
    Jan 18, 2011 at 15:47

In Lincoln-Douglas debate, when a person says something like “Resolved: When in conflict, an individual's freedom of speech should be valued above a community's moral standards,” it means that’s the topic that will be debated.

Saying the word 'resolve' or 'resolved' is actually an abbreviation of the term 'resolution,' which is like saying 'motion.'

If you're debating a subject, imagine you're arguing for a motion to be passed in a vote of some kind. So, you might say "I move to make eating pretzels illegal" or "Motion: to make eating pretzels illegal." Resolution is the same as motion. Saying 'resolved' before a debate represents one debater's stance on the subject either in favor of or in opposition to that resolution.


It sounds to me as if 'resolved' is being used to mean 'agreed'. Why is'ahead of' now being used everywhere to mean 'before' or 'ready for' or 'in the light of'? It's very annoying.


The word resolved stated before the resolution means "obsolete", to deal with successfully, clear up, an immediate course of action, meaning that the plan would immediately be enacted.

Therefore, if you come across a case that involves something like cooperation with other countries or anything that takes a significant amount of time, you can argue that it violates the word resolved.


I disagree with the excerpted use of Resolved.

Here is a quote from an online version Robert's Rules.

If it is desired to give the reasons for the resolution, they are usually stated in a preamble, each clause of which constitutes a paragraph beginning with "Whereas."

Whereas, We consider that suitable recreation is a necessary part of a rational educational system; and

Whereas, There is no public ground in this village where our school children can play; therefore

Resolved, That it is the sense of this meeting that ample play grounds should be immediately provided for our school children.

Resolved, That a committee of five be appointed by the chair to present these resolutions to the village authorities and to urge upon them prompt action in the matter.

In the examples you cite in the second paragraph, I would only agree with the third Resolved. The others should use Whereas.

In "The United States is losing the War on Terror," the deliberative body is not deciding (or Resolving) to do anything. It is a preamble to a resolution. Same for "The costs of legalized casino gambling in the U.S. outweigh the benefits." These both need a Whereas followed by a later "Resolved" and a resolution.

The excerpt provides the decision in "Resolved: The United States should issue guest worker visas to illegal aliens." This is the correct usage.

  • Whereas, The usage of whereas and resolved were established by Brig. Gen. Roberts in 1876, and
  • Whereas, Some modern usage of whereas has been confused with resolved; therefore
  • Resolved, That questions be posted to a suitable online forum to inquire as to correct usage of resolved.
  • Resolved, That authors, legislators, and members of deliberative bodies observe and employ the correct usage of whereas and resolved.

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