Got a problem? Somebody on the internet wants to (dis)solve it.
There are solutions, y’all. It took me all of 10 minutes to compile this little collage of 40 logos. It could have been thousands. And that’s just business names – never mind slogans and taglines.
In business and marketing, this is a word most commonly found in its PLURAL form. There’s something about the word that overtly rings TECH. Its use, in fact, reaches a peak in the late 1970s.
Like, the digital landscape is so intense you need, y’know, solutions.
USUALLY, this is the part where I’d talk about the word’s lazy vaguery. About how its overuse has emptied it of any meaning at all. You’ve got answers? We’ve got solutions! Yawn.
Except this is a truly fascinating word. Its verb form, solve, has the same etymological root as that which would seem to be its opposite, dissolve (resolve and absolve, too). Their Latin great-grandma, solvere, meant to loosen, untie, release.
Which threw me for a linguistic loop for a good minute – my features stuck in the super attractive, scrunched-up configuration my laptop surely knows as my stumped face. How could solution mean BOTH ‘to find an answer’ and ‘to undo?’
But here’s the thing: these are not words that function alone. They always require a direct object. We can’t just ‘solve’ the way we can just ‘walk,’ for instance. We solve something. We seek a solution to something.
And it’s in the something that we understand how finding a solution is simultaneously an undoing.
If we are to solve a Rubix cube, a riddle, a knot – we will loosen it. If we desire a solution to the wage gap, it will involve an undoing of patriarchy. Solutions to global warming demand undoing what we’ve done, releasing our current ways of existing.
Solving a problem, in other words, is equivalent to dissolving it.
And that’s a reading that shines a whole new light on the word solution for me. It changes how I understand the word entirely. Now, instead of causing me to roll my eyes, it raises my brows, and perks my ears. You?
That’s the word, nerd.