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

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 That bill forced the Treasurer's Office to divest $143 million from Unilever, the parent company of Ben & Jerry's ice cream last year. Ryan Randazzo, The Arizona Republic, 14 July 2022 But his recent bets on oil companies are contrarian in a new way, doubling down on fossil fuels when the rest of the world is trying to divest from it. Samanth Subramanian, Quartz, 11 July 2022 Texas, which is a major oil-producing state, has attempted to push back against companies that are trying to divest fossil fuel companies from their portfolios. Siladitya Ray, Forbes, 2 June 2022 Renault and others have been under pressure to divest from Russia since its full-scale invasion of Ukraine began in late February, triggering waves of Western sanctions aimed at cutting off Moscow from the global financial system. Nick Kostov, WSJ, 16 May 2022 The indictments prompted an investigation by the Indiana Gaming Commission, which revoked Keeler's gaming license and forced him to divest from the projects. Tony Cook, The Indianapolis Star, 26 Apr. 2022 Facing mounting pressure to divest from oil and gas, investors are increasingly demanding more standardized and robust climate and emissions disclosures from the industry. Paul Takahashi / Bloomberg, Time, 12 Apr. 2022 Divesting from Russia:Ohio's pension funds want to divest from Russia. Julie Carr Smyth, The Enquirer, 16 Mar. 2022 Sarah Palin, the corporation’s board voted to support a bill requiring the state to divest from companies operating in Sudan. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, 5 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

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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Last Updated

1 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Divest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest. Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for divest


transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on divest

Nglish: Translation of divest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of divest for Arabic Speakers


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