from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To cause to pass into solution.
  • intransitive verb To reduce (solid matter) to liquid form; melt.
  • intransitive verb To cause to lose definition; blend or blur.
  • intransitive verb To cause to disappear or vanish; dispel.
  • intransitive verb To break into component parts; disintegrate.
  • intransitive verb To bring to an end, as by breaking up; terminate or annul.
  • intransitive verb To dismiss (an assembly such as a legislative body).
  • intransitive verb To cause to be moved emotionally or upset.
  • intransitive verb To pass into solution.
  • intransitive verb To become liquid; melt.
  • intransitive verb To lose definition; become blurred or indistinguishable.
  • intransitive verb To become disintegrated; disappear.
  • intransitive verb To be broken up into separate parts.
  • intransitive verb To be brought to an end; be annulled or terminated.
  • intransitive verb To be moved or overcome emotionally.
  • intransitive verb To make a transition between shots in a cinematic work using a superimposition in which the first shot fades out while the second shot gradually appears.
  • noun A transition in a cinematic work consisting of a superimposition in which the first shot fades out while the second shot gradually appears.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To liquefy by the disintegrating action of a fluid; separate and diffuse the particles of, as a solid body in a liquid; make a solution of: as, water dissolves salt and sugar; to dissolve resin in alcohol; to dissolve a gas in a liquid. See solution.
  • In general, to melt; liquefy by means of heat or moisture; soften by or cover with moisture: chiefly figurative and poetical. See melt.
  • To disunite; break up; separate into parts; loosen the connection of; destroy, as any connected system or body, or a union of feeling, interests, etc.; put an end to: as, to dissolve a government; to dissolve Parliament; to dissolve an alliance; to dissolve the bonds of friendship.
  • To explain; resolve; solve.
  • To destroy the power of; deprive of force; annul; abrogate: as, to dissolve a charm or spell; to dissolve an injunction.
  • To consume; cause to vanish or perish; end by dissolution; destroy, as by fire.
  • Synonyms Thaw, Fuse., etc. See melt.
  • To become fluid; be disintegrated and absorbed by a fluid; be converted from a solid to a fluid state: as, sugar dissolves in water.
  • To be disintegrated by or as if by heat or force; melt or crumble; waste away.
  • To become relaxed; lose force or strength; melt or sink away from weakness or languor.
  • To separate; break up: as, the council dissolved; Parliament dissolved.
  • To break up or pass away by degrees; disappear gradually; fade from sight or apprehension: as, dissolving views (see view); his prospects were rapidly dissolving.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To waste away; to be dissipated; to be decomposed or broken up.
  • intransitive verb To become fluid; to be melted; to be liquefied.
  • intransitive verb To fade away; to fall to nothing; to lose power.
  • transitive verb To separate into competent parts; to disorganize; to break up; hence, to bring to an end by separating the parts, sundering a relation, etc.; to terminate; to destroy; to deprive of force
  • transitive verb To break the continuity of; to disconnect; to disunite; to sunder; to loosen; to undo; to separate.
  • transitive verb To convert into a liquid by means of heat, moisture, etc.,; to melt; to liquefy; to soften.
  • transitive verb To solve; to clear up; to resolve.
  • transitive verb To relax by pleasure; to make powerless.
  • transitive verb (Law) To annul; to rescind; to discharge or release.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To terminate a union of multiple members actively, as by disbanding
  • verb transitive To destroy, make disappear
  • verb transitive To liquify, melt into a fluid
  • verb intransitive To be melted, changed into a fluid
  • verb chemistry (transitive) To disintegrate chemically into a solution by immersion into a liquid or gas.
  • verb chemistry (intransitive) To be disintegrated by such immersion.
  • verb transitive To disperse, drive apart a group of persons.
  • verb cinematography (intransitive) To shift from one shot to another by having the former fade out as the latter fades in.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English dissolven, from Latin dissolvere : dis-, dis- + solvere, to release; see leu- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Recorded since c.1374, from Latin dissolvere "to loosen up, break apart", itself from dis- "apart" + solvere "to loose, loosen"


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  • The process by which you lose the solution to a problem.

    October 22, 2007

  • "The room had six shower heads. Hot water flowed from all of them. The steam was so thick that his neck was perspiring. At first he couldn't see her. Then she walked backward out of the shower. She lathered herself up, using a long curved brush with a wooden handle. Methodically. Gradually she dissolved in a thin layer of bubbles. She went back into the steam, dissolved completely, and disappeared."

    - 'The Quiet Girl', Peter Høeg.

    March 18, 2008