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

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Other Words from devolution

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

Over the last two decades, England has failed to receive a level of devolution comparable to the rest of the UK. Gareth Evans, Quartz, "The UK’s next prime minister must urgently answer five constitutional questions," 28 June 2019 The various contributors also tackle issues that Conservatives have shied away from, such as the importance of devolution. The Economist, "On Britain beyond Brexit and the future of Conservatism," 18 June 2019 Even in this context, Seattle’s devolution is odd for two reasons. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "Oh, So Now the Seahawks Want to Run the Ball," 14 Dec. 2018 This should involve power-sharing in Damascus, and the devolution of power to the provinces. The Economist, "Syrian refugees could turn into the new Palestinians," 30 June 2018 This governance model failure is the real story underpinning the GE devolution. Thomas Gryta And Ted Mann, WSJ, "Readers React to WSJ’s Article on GE’s Decline," 17 Dec. 2018 Such were the devolutions and betrayals in those days, and retrogressions to the ways of shame. Lance Morrow, WSJ, "The Book of Donald," 4 Oct. 2018 Elsewhere Kevin Roose wades through tweets and Facebook posts to chart the alleged mail bomber’s devolution into a fringe conspiracy theorist and terrorist. Casey Newton, The Verge, "Why social media is friend to far-right politicians around the world," 30 Oct. 2018 That would come to Scotland with devolution in 1999. The Economist, "The siren call of separatism," 12 July 2018

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.

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First Known Use of devolution

1545, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for devolution

Medieval Latin devolution-, devolutio, from Latin devolvere — see devolve

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Statistics for devolution

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for devolution

The first known use of devolution was in 1545

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More Definitions for devolution



English Language Learners Definition of devolution

: the act or process by which a central government gives power, property, etc., to local groups or governments


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

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Comments on devolution

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