ˈsälv How to pronounce solve (audio)
solved; solving

transitive verb

: to find a solution, explanation, or answer for
solve a problem
solved the crime
: to pay in full
solve a debt

intransitive verb

: to solve something
substitute and solve for x
solver noun

Examples of solve in a Sentence

They are working to solve the traffic problem. If they'll lend us the money we need, all our problems will be solved. He couldn't solve the math problem. The mystery has been solved. The FBI has been trying to solve the case for years.
Recent Examples on the Web This inspired the pivotal scene in the movie where Matt’s character Will, who works as a janitor at M.I.T., anonymously solves an impossible equation written on one of the boards while cleaning after hours. Ale Russian, Peoplemag, 17 Feb. 2024 Separately, the wreckage of the SS Arlington, a bulk carrier that sank in 1940, has been found on the bottom of Lake Superior, but the discovery only solves one of the mysteries behind the ship’s sinking. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 17 Feb. 2024 Since Abbott began his busing scheme, Denver has received more migrants per capita than any other city, exacerbating some of the issues that Johnston had vowed to solve. Jonathan Blitzer, The New Yorker, 17 Feb. 2024 Mainstream endogenous growth models link technological improvements with the pool of resources that are thrown at solving problems. Quora, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 Individually and collectively this team is solving its identity crisis. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, 16 Feb. 2024 That way, problems are more likely to be solved—and feelings are less likely to be hurt. Jenna Ryu, SELF, 16 Feb. 2024 But this is only half of the problem that needs solving. Peter Guest, WIRED, 16 Feb. 2024 Only bold leadership can solve tough problems like the economy, health care, women’s reproductive rights, and gun violence. Eleanor Dearman, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'solve.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, to loosen, from Latin solvere to loosen, solve, dissolve, from sed-, se- apart + luere to release — more at secede, lose

First Known Use

circa 1533, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of solve was circa 1533

Dictionary Entries Near solve

Cite this Entry

“Solve.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


ˈsälv How to pronounce solve (audio)
solved; solving
: to find a solution for
solve a puzzle

More from Merriam-Webster on solve

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