de·​vo·​lu·​tion | \ ˌde-və-ˈlü-shən How to pronounce devolution (audio) also ˌdē-və- \

Definition of devolution

1 : transference (as of rights, powers, property, or responsibility) to another especially : the surrender of powers to local authorities by a central government
2 : retrograde (see retrograde entry 1 sense 2) evolution : degeneration

Other Words from devolution

devolutionary \ ˌde-​və-​ˈlü-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce devolution (audio) also  ˌdē-​və-​ \ adjective
devolutionist \ ˌde-​və-​ˈlü-​sh(ə-​)nist How to pronounce devolution (audio) also  ˌdē-​və-​ \ noun

Examples of devolution in a Sentence

the gradual devolution of the neighborhood from a thriving community of close-knit families to a drug-ridden slum
Recent Examples on the Web The Afro-American Big Grrrls phenotypes are derived from the white radical feminist concept Riot Grrrls, perfectly linked to the dubious approval of Biden liberals, thus a cultural devolution. Armond White, National Review, 29 June 2022 Still, Cronenberg isn’t too worried about making definitive statements on mankind’s devolution. David Sims, The Atlantic, 2 June 2022 No story is imposed on this gradual evolution (or devolution, perhaps). Sam Sacks, WSJ, 29 Apr. 2022 Entering its final season, Better Call Saul had much to unpack about Jimmy's concerning devolution, Kim's alarming new scheme, and Lalo's frightening revenge mission. Dan Snierson,, 19 Apr. 2022 Much of Season 4, the strongest in the series, quietly traced the painful devolution of their trust. The New Yorker, 22 Nov. 2021 But questioning a person’s religious claims will rarely come across as respectful, and the devolution of religion in America has turned everyone into their own religious authority. Ira Bedzow, Forbes, 11 Oct. 2021 The podcast — part true crime, part historical fiction — covers Lennon’s ties with political revolutionaries, the devolution of his relationship with Paul McCartney and his assassination at the age of 40. Todd Spangler, Variety, 16 Aug. 2021 The result is a devolution of controversy to the state, municipal, and local levels of government. Matthew Continetti, National Review, 10 July 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of devolution

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for devolution

borrowed from Medieval Latin dēvolūtiōn-, dēvolūtiō "passage of time, passing down of a task, transference of legal proceedings," from Latin dēvolū-, variant stem of dēvolvere "to roll (something) down, (in passive voice) sink or fall back, become subject to, be passed down to (an heir)" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of verbal action — more at devolve

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The first known use of devolution was in 1545

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Last Updated

5 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Devolution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for devolution


de·​vo·​lu·​tion | \ ˌde-və-ˈlü-shən, ˌdē- How to pronounce devolution (audio) \

Legal Definition of devolution

: the transfer (as of rights, powers, property, or responsibility) to another

More from Merriam-Webster on devolution

Nglish: Translation of devolution for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about devolution


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