di·​vest | \ dī-ˈvest How to pronounce divest (audio) , də- \
divested; divesting; divests

Definition of divest

transitive verb

1a : to deprive or dispossess especially of property, authority, or title divesting assets to raise capital was divested of his rights divesting herself of all her worldly possessions encouraged the university to divest itself from fossil fuels
b : to undress or strip especially of clothing, ornament, or equipment Christmas trees divested of their ornaments
c : rid, free
2 : to take away from a person

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Other Words from divest

divestment \ dī-​ˈves(t)-​mənt How to pronounce divest (audio) , də-​ \ noun

Did you know?

Divest is one of many English words that come from the Latin verb vestire (to clothe) and ultimately from the noun vestis (clothing, garment). Others include vest, vestment, invest, and travesty. Divest and its older form devest can mean to unclothe or to remove the clothing of, but the word had broader applications even when it was first being used in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the opening scene of Shakespeare's King Lear, Lear uses the term to mean rid oneself of or put aside:

"Tell me, my daughters
(Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state),
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?" In addition to clothing, one can be divested of power, authority, possessions, or burdens."

Examples of divest in a Sentence

The company is divesting 8 of its 20 stores. We may have to divest assets to raise capital.
Recent Examples on the Web Last year, the Minnesota State Board of Investment voted to divest from companies that derive more than a quarter of their revenue from thermal coal. BostonGlobe.com, 10 June 2021 Investors already holding shares in the 59 companies listed have one year to divest from them. Arkansas Online, 5 June 2021 In the 1980s, the council directed the city to divest from South Africa due to the apartheid regime. Emily Opilo, baltimoresun.com, 26 May 2021 The bill also calls for pension funds, such as the state employees and teacher retirement systems, to divest from companies that cut ties with oil and gas. Allie Morris, Dallas News, 21 May 2021 Pressure is building on the investment giant T.I.A.A. to divest from fossil fuels. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, 19 May 2021 In 2016, the Rockefeller Family Fund pledged to divest from fossil fuels, including its stake in Exxon. Matt Egan, CNN, 13 May 2021 Meanwhile, advocates have proposed the BREATHE Act to divest federal resources from policing and invest in new approaches to community safety. Donna Owens, Essence, 3 May 2021 However, financial institutions must also be willing to divest from companies who remain unwilling or unable to align with climate goals. David Carlin, Forbes, 2 Mar. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'divest.' 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 divest

1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for divest

alteration of devest

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Statistics for divest

Last Updated

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Divest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest. Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for divest



English Language Learners Definition of divest

finance : to sell (something valuable, such as property or stocks)
di·​vest | \ dī-ˈvest, də- How to pronounce divest (audio) \

Legal Definition of divest

: to deprive or dispossess (oneself) of property through divestiture

Other Words from divest

divestment noun

History and Etymology for divest

Anglo-French devestir, literally, to undress, from Old French desvestir, from de(s)-, prefix marking reversal + vestir to dress, from Latin vestire


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