de·​vise | \ di-ˈvīz How to pronounce devise (audio) \
devised; devising

Definition of devise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : 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
2 law : to give (real estate) by will (see will entry 2 sense 1) — compare bequeath



Definition of devise (Entry 2 of 2)

1 law : the act of giving or disposing of real (see real entry 1 sense 2) property by will (see will entry 2 sense 1)
2 law : a will or clause of a will disposing of real property
3 law : property devised by will

Other Words from devise


devisable \ di-​ˈvī-​zə-​bəl How to pronounce devise (audio) \ adjective
deviser noun

Did you know?

There's something inventive about devise, a word that stems from Latin dividere, meaning "to divide." By the time devise began being used in early Middle English, its Anglo-French forebear deviser had accumulated an array of senses, including "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, such as "imagine," "guess," "pretend," and "describe." In modern use, we've disposed of a lot of the old meanings, but we have kept the one that applies to wills; devise has traditionally referred to the transfer of real property (land), and bequeath to personal property. These days, this devise is most often recognized as applying generally to all the property in a person's estate.

Examples of devise in a Sentence

Verb They have devised a new method for converting sunlight into electricity. she quickly devised a new scheme when the first one failed
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the larger picture, the decision drives home the urgent need to devise realistic strategies to put this brazenly activist court on the political defensive, starting now and persisting into the foreseeable future. Simon Lazarus, The New Republic, 3 July 2022 Several cities are hiring heat officers to devise cooling strategies and plan response strategies for increasing temperatures. Renny Vandewege, Forbes, 22 Apr. 2022 So the Indianapolis Urban League, the Indy Black Expo, and African American Coalition of Indianapolis helped devise strategies to bring Black parents to the Senate floor during the hearing. Giselle Rhoden, CNN, 3 Apr. 2022 In the counteroffensive around Kyiv, the Ukrainian military ordered lower-level commanders to devise strategies for striking back in ways appropriate to their local areas. Andrew E. Kramer, New York Times, 24 Mar. 2022 This has prompted defense attorneys to hunt for hints that the technology was used and to devise strategies to force disclosure. Khari Johnson, Wired, 7 Mar. 2022 The Emergence of Different Types of AI AI and its variants are used to devise novel solutions to various problems. Naveen Joshi, Forbes, 16 Aug. 2022 Meghan has been a One Young World counsellor since 2014, and this will be her fourth time at the summit, which brings together talent from dozens of countries and sectors to debate and devise solutions to pressing issues. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, 15 Aug. 2022 President Joe Biden and his top advisers have been working to devise solutions to the situation, including scaling up capacity to house unaccompanied children and working with Mexico to help manage the flow of migrants from Central America. Alaa Elassar, CNN, 9 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun In a statement Friday, the IS-K said the explosive devise that devastated Mazar-e-Sharif's Sai Doken mosque was hidden in a bag left inside among scores of worshippers. Kathy Gannon And Mohammad Shaob Amin, USA TODAY, 22 Apr. 2022 When the pandemic required the district to implement remote learning in March of last year, the district was forced to assure all students were issued an electronic devise. Steve Sadin,, 22 Dec. 2021 This is often a preferable arrangement if the couple's intent is for the surviving partner to have complete ownership of the home since this transfer is automatic by operation of law and not dependent upon a devise under a will. Matthew Erskine, Forbes, 8 Nov. 2021 Ally expects to surface in some of the content that creators who take part in the program devise. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 16 Oct. 2021 Grogan, over his two decades as CEO, figured out the nonprofit could drive change by combining the power of research on critical topics such as affordable housing and education reform with its ability to convene stakeholders and devise solutions., 13 July 2021 Some fear China could use such data to give its drug industry an economic advantage, devise bioweapons tailored to Americans’ genetics, or even blackmail people by threatening to publicize private information. Jocelyn Kaiser, Science | AAAS, 14 June 2021 So Fuer had a millworker devise custom red covers, which connect to a red bookcase tucked between the room’s two windows. Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, 1 Apr. 2021 The group has been working with Teen Vogue editors to firm up their collections and devise plans that are pandemic-proof. Vogue Runway, Vogue, 23 Oct. 2020 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'devise.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of devise


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for devise

Verb and Noun

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

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Time Traveler for devise

Time Traveler

The first known use of devise was in the 13th century

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Dictionary Entries Near devise

devisat vel non



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Statistics for devise

Last Updated

5 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Devise.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for devise


de·​vise | \ di-ˈvīz How to pronounce devise (audio) \
devised; devising

Kids Definition of devise

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


transitive verb
de·​vise | \ di-ˈvīz How to pronounce devise (audio) \
devised; devising

Legal Definition of devise

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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

Other Words from devise

devisable adjective
devisor \ ˌde-​və-​ˈzȯr; di-​ˈvī-​ˌzȯr, -​zər How to pronounce devise (audio) \ noun



Legal Definition of devise (Entry 2 of 2)

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

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

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 : a clause in a will disposing of property and especially real property
3 : property disposed of by a will

History and Etymology for devise

Transitive verb

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

More from Merriam-Webster on devise

Nglish: Translation of devise for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of devise for Arabic Speakers


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