Etymology
Advertisement
solve (v.)
late 14c., "to disperse, dissipate, loosen," from Latin solvere "to loosen, dissolve; untie, release, detach; depart; unlock; scatter; dismiss; accomplish, fulfill; explain; remove," from PIE *se-lu-, from reflexive pronoun *s(w)e- (see idiom) + root *leu- "to loosen, divide, cut apart." The meaning "explain, answer" is attested from 1530s; for sense evolution, see solution. Mathematical use is attested from 1737. Related: Solved; solving.
Related entries & more 
Advertisement
unsolved (adj.)
1660s, from un- (1) "not" + past participle of solve (v.).
Related entries & more 
*leu- 
Proto-Indo-European root meaning "to loosen, divide, cut apart."

It forms all or part of: absolute; absolution; absolve; analysis; analytic; catalysis; catalyst; catalytic; dialysis; dissolve; electrolysis; electrolyte; forlorn; Hippolytus; hydrolysis; -less; loess; loose; lorn; lose; loss; Lysander; lysergic; lysis; -lysis; lyso-; lysol; lytic; -lytic; palsy; paralysis; pyrolusite; resolute; resolution; resolve; soluble; solute; solution; solve; solvent.

It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Sanskrit lunati "cuts, cuts off," lavitram "sickle;" Greek lyein "to loosen, untie, slacken," lysus "a loosening;" Latin luere "to loose, release, atone for, expiate;" Old Norse lauss "loose, free, unencumbered; vacant; dissolute;" Old English losian "be lost, perish."
Related entries & more 
decrypt (v.)

1933, "to decode an intercepted message," 1936, "to solve a cryptogram," from de- + cryptogram. Related: Decrypted; decrypting.

Related entries & more 
Advertisement
complicated (adj.)

1640s, "composed of interconnected parts, not simple," past-participle adjective from complicate. Figurative meaning "not easy to solve, intricate, confused, difficult to explain or understand" is from 1650s. Related: Complicatedness.

Related entries & more 
riddle (v.2)

1570s, "to pose as a riddle, speak in riddles," from riddle (n.1). Earlier it meant "to puzzle" (over something), early 15c. Transitive sense of "to interpret or solve a riddle" is from 1580s (as in riddle me this). Related: Riddled; riddler; riddling.

Related entries & more 
calculator (n.)

late 14c., "mathematician, one who calculates," from Latin calculator, from calculatus, past participle of calculare "to reckon, compute," from calculus "reckoning, account" (see calculus). Of mechanical adding machine contraptions, from 1784. Of electronic ones, from 1946.

Electronic calculator uses 18,000 tubes to solve complex problems [Scientific American headline, June 1946]
Related entries & more 
Gordian knot (n.)
1560s, tied by Gordius (Greek Gordios), first king of Phrygia in Asia Minor and father of Midas, who predicted the one to loosen it would rule Asia. Instead, Alexander the Great cut the Gordian knot with his sword; hence the extended sense (1570s in English) "solve a difficult problem in a quick, dramatic way."
Related entries & more 
answer (v.)

Old English answarian "make a statement in reply," from and- "against" (from PIE root *ant- "front, forehead," with derivatives meaning "in front of, before") + swerian "to swear" (see swear), suggesting an original sense of "make a sworn statement rebutting a charge."

Meanings "conform, correspond" and "be responsible for" are from early 13c; that of "suffer the consequences of" is from late 13c.; that of "respond in antiphony" is from early 15c. Sense of "respond in act or action, give back in kind" is from 1570s; that of "solve, find the result of" is from 1742. Related: Answered; answering. The telephone answering machine so called from 1961.

Related entries & more