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

transitive verb

: 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
: to undress or strip especially of clothing, ornament, or equipment
Christmas trees divested of their ornaments
: rid, free
: to take away from a person
divestment noun

Did you know?

The vest in divest is a close relation of the kind found in closets—its origin is Latin vestis meaning “clothing, garment.” (Vest has the same source and first appeared in English as a verb in the 15th century meaning “to put on garments or vestments.”) Divest today mostly appears in legal and business contexts about a formal removal or loss of something of value; assets that are divested are sold or given away; someone divested of a right officially loses that right. The word’s first late 16th century use, however, was more intimately related to its roots: divest was then used to mean “to undress or strip especially of clothing, ornament, or equipment.” But broader application of divest soon followed. In Shakespeare’s Henry V, the French King Charles is told via messenger that England’s King Henry “wills you, in the name of God Almighty, / That you divest yourself, and lay apart / ... the crown / And all wide-stretched honours that pertain ...”

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 The company, previously known as Endeavor Content, itself was formed after a packaging fees fight between Endeavor and the Writers Guild, in which the talent agency was required to divest a majority stake in the business in order to be able to represent writers. Caitlin Huston, The Hollywood Reporter, 24 Aug. 2023 Under a bill pending in the state Legislature this year, California’s two big public employee pension funds — the nation’s largest — would be required to divest billions of dollars from oil and gas companies. Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times, 15 Aug. 2023 In February, Hyundai announced plans to divest its majority stake from an auto supplier in Alabama following its investigation, as well as other measures to report the use of underage labor. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, 28 Aug. 2023 Instead, these rights will be divested to Ubisoft Entertainment SA prior to Microsoft’s acquisition of Activision. Naman Ramachandran, Variety, 21 Aug. 2023 Averting the worst-case scenario means stopping making investments in new fossil fuel supply projects, divesting from fossil fuel interests, and stripping out fossil fuel assets entirely from investment portfolios. Peter Vanham, Fortune, 17 Aug. 2023 Hyundai has since divested from one supplier and has required another to verify workers’ ages. Nicole Goodkind, CNN, 30 July 2023 Dish Wireless has been working on this project since 2020, when Sprint and T-Mobile agreed to divest Sprint’s prepaid services along with other network assets as a condition for federal approval of T-Mobile buying Sprint. Rob Pegoraro, PCMAG, 26 July 2023 Her work is especially focused on helping individuals divest from a one-size-fits-all approach to health and embracing their cultural foods. Isabel Vasquez Rd Ldn, Health, 22 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'divest.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


alteration of devest

First Known Use

1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of divest was in 1623


Dictionary Entries Near divest

Cite this Entry

“Divest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest. Accessed 29 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


di·​vest dī-ˈvest How to pronounce divest (audio)
: to take something off or away from
divested myself of my heavy backpack

Legal Definition


transitive verb
di·​vest dī-ˈvest, də- How to pronounce divest (audio)
: to deprive or dispossess (oneself) of property through divestiture
divestment noun

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

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