verb de·volve \di-ˈvälv, -ˈvlv, dē-\

: to gradually go from an advanced state to a less advanced state

: to pass (responsibility, power, etc.) from one person or group to another person or group at a lower level of authority

: to be given to someone after the owner has died


Full Definition of DEVOLVE

transitive verb
:  to pass on (as responsibility, rights, or powers) from one person or entity to another <devolving to western Europe full responsibility for its own defense — Christopher Lane>
intransitive verb
a :  to pass by transmission or succession <the estate devolved on a distant cousin>
b :  to fall or be passed usually as a responsibility or obligation <the responsibility for breadwinning has devolved increasingly upon women — Barbara Ehrenreich>
:  to come by or as if by flowing down <his allegedly subversive campaigns…devolve from his belief in basic American rights — Frank Deford>
:  to degenerate through a gradual change or evolution <where order devolves into chaos — Johns Hopkins Magazine>

Examples of DEVOLVE

  1. She cynically asserts that our species is devolving.
  2. Somehow the debate devolved into a petty competition to see who could get more applause.
  3. Community leaders hope that the new government will devolve more power to the community itself.
  4. Responsibility has devolved to the individual teachers.

Origin of DEVOLVE

Middle English, from Latin devolvere, from de- + volvere to roll — more at voluble
First Known Use: 15th century


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