/rɛzəˈluʃən/ (say rezuh’loohshuhn) noun 1. a formal determination, or expression of opinion, of a deliberative assembly or other body of persons. 2. a resolve or determination: to make a firm resolution to do something. … 7. solution or explanation, as of a problem, a doubtful point, etc. … 9. reduction to a simpler form; conversion. 10. Medicine the reduction or disappearance of a swelling or inflammation without suppuration. 11. Optics a. the act or process of distinguishing between the individual parts of an image. b. resolving power. 12. the degree of fineness in the reproduction of an image, as by a photograph, television screen, etc. [Middle English resolucion, from Latin resolūtio] Source: Online Macquarie Dictionary

Whew! And here I was, just thinking of ‘resolution’ in the context of the New Year. In that respect, etymologically speaking, it comes from the late 18th century when, apparently, the resolutions were often based on religious beliefs. Most references agree that ‘resolution’ comes from Latin originally, although from there, the various meanings came either through Old French or Middle English, with appearances as early as the late (now, there’s an expression to investigate at some later stage!) 14th century, but most appearing in the 16th century. (Source: Online Etymology Dictionary)

How did I come on this word as the first offering to the My Word blog in such a long time? Well, obviously, 2017 has just started, so … Where did the tradition of making New Year’s resolutions begin, and why?

It’s actually quite an old tradition and, as noted above, has a religious background – that goes back much further than the 18th century, despite what the trusty Online Etymology Dictionary suggests. The Babylonians, the Romans, medieval knights and many other groups used the end of the old year/start of the new year as a time to reaffirm their allegiance to their gods and, in the case of the knights, to chivalry.

In the late 19th century and early 20th century, there was a shift to making the resolutions reflect an area of one’s life that, in the eyes of the ‘resolver’, required improvement. Common resolutions these days are about improving fitness, eating healthily (or healthier), giving up a bad habit or completing items on a bucket list.

According to an article in Forbes in December 2016, research shows that only eight percent of people manage to achieve their goal. Those odds are not good, are they?

So, how has everybody hit 2017? All ready to write brilliantly, find a good proofreader/editor to check your work before publication, learn and use new words? My only resolution (I can’t be overloading the self-management capabilities too much, can I?) is to publish a wordy blog every week – and here is my first offering! My word, here we go!

For all your editing and proofreading needs, contact Righting Writing: always happy to prettify your prose.