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verb, de·vise \di-ˈvīz\

Simple Definition of devise

  • : to invent or plan (something that is difficult or complicated)

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of devise


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 a :  to form in the mind by new combinations or applications of ideas or principles :  invent <devise a new strategy> b archaic :  conceive, imagine c :  to plan to obtain or bring about :  plot <devise one's death>

  3. 2 :  to give (real estate) by will — compare bequeath

devisable play \-ˈvī-zə-bəl\ adjective
deviser noun

Examples of devise in a sentence

  1. They have devised a new method for converting sunlight into electricity.

  2. <she quickly devised a new scheme when the first one failed>

Did You Know?

There's something inventive about devise, a word that stems from Latin dividere, meaning "to divide." By the time devise appeared in English in the 1200s, its Anglo-French forebear deviser had accumulated an array of senses, including "to divide," "distribute," "arrange," "array," "digest," "order," "plan," "invent," "contrive," and "assign by will." English adopted most of these and added some new senses over the course of time: "to imagine," "guess," "pretend," and "describe." In modern use, we've disposed of a lot of the old meanings, but we kept the one that applies to wills. Devise traditionally referred to the transfer of real property (land), and bequeath to personal property; these days, however, devise is often recognized as applying generally to all the property in a person's estate.

Origin of devise

Middle English, from Anglo-French deviser, diviser, to divide, distinguish, invent, from Vulgar Latin *divisare, frequentative of Latin dividere to divide

First Known Use: 13th century



noun de·vise

Definition of devise

  1. 1 :  the act of giving or disposing of real property by will

  2. 2 :  a will or clause of a will disposing of real property

  3. 3 :  property devised by will

15th Century

First Known Use of devise

15th century

DEVISE Defined for Kids


verb de·vise \di-ˈvīz\

Definition of devise for Students


  1. :  to think up :  plan, invent <We devised a plan to win.>

Law Dictionary



transitive verb de·vise \di-ˈvīz\

Legal Definition of devise


  1. :  to give (property) by will; specifically :  to give (real property) by will — compare alienate, bequeath, convey

devisable adjective
devisor \ˌde-və-ˈzȯr; di-ˈvī-ˌzȯr, -zər\ play noun

Origin of devise

Anglo-French deviser to divide, share, bequeath, ultimately from Latin dividere to divide



noun de·vise

Legal Definition of devise

  1. 1 :  a gift of property made in a will; specifically :  a gift of real property made in a will — see also abate, ademption — compare distribution Editor's note: Formerly devise was used to refer only to gifts of real property, and legacy and bequest were used only to refer to gifts of personal property. These distinctions are no longer closely followed. The Uniform Probate Code uses devise to refer to any gifts made in a will. executory devise :  a devise of an interest in land that will vest in the future upon the occurrence of a contingency and that can follow a fee simple estate Editor's note: Executory devises were invented as a way of getting around the rule in Shelley's case, which is now largely abolished. general devise :  a devise that is to be distributed from the general assets of an estate and that is not of a particular thing residuary devise :  a devise of whatever is left in an estate after all other debts and devises have been paid or distributed specific devise :  a devise of a particular item or part of an estate that is payable only from a specified source in the estate and not from the general assets

  2. 2 :  a clause in a will disposing of property and especially real property

  3. 3 :  property disposed of by a will

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up devise? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to dishevel or rumple

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