di·​vest | \dī-ˈvest, də-\

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 \-​ˈves(t)-​mənt \ 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

Alibaba was turned down this year after expressing interest in an investment or acquisition, according to Reuters, while Tencent is said to have divested itself of a small stake in Bytedance some time ago. Sam Byford, The Verge, "How China’s Bytedance became the world’s most valuable startup," 30 Nov. 2018 An expulsion could prompt some investors—including funds that track the FTSE 100—to divest themselves of the company’s shares. Saabira Chaudhuri, WSJ, "FTSE 100 Sets Unilever’s Departure Date," 12 Sep. 2018 AT&T’s decisive court victory — the judge said the merger could move forward without requiring the telecommunications giant or Time Warner to divest any assets — creates a blueprint for Comcast. New York Times, "Comcast Offers $65 Billion for 21st Century Fox, Challenging Disney," 13 June 2018 Trump bucked tradition by not divesting assets that might pose conflicts for his presidency. chicagotribune.com, "Trump's net worth drops to $2.8 billion, lowest since campaign," 31 May 2018 Nestle has said its Purina division is a central focus as the company divests slower-growing units like its U.S. confectionery business. Samy Adghirni, Bloomberg.com, "Nestle Sees Demand for Premium Pet Food Driving Purina Growth," 16 Mar. 2018 But amid swelling debt and increasing attention from regulatory bodies, HNA began to unload its investments, divesting $14 billion in assets this year and reducing its stake in Deutsche to 7.6%. Gracedobush, Fortune, "The Chinese Billionaire Who Owned Major Stakes in Hilton and Deutsche Bank Has Died," 4 July 2018 Before joining the White House, Mr. Kushner divested more than 100 assets and resigned from more than 260 corporate positions, and Ms. Trump resigned from more than 300 corporate positions, their lawyer has said. Julie Bykowicz, WSJ, "Jared Kushner Reports Wealth After First Year in White House," 11 June 2018 But another expert said that divesting creates a risk of losing money. NBC News, "Leaked documents show fossil fuel holdings of green nonprofits," 17 May 2018

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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Last Updated

5 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for divest

The first known use of divest was in 1623

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English Language Learners Definition of divest

finance : to sell (something valuable, such as property or stocks)

di·​vest | \dī-ˈvest, də- \

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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More from Merriam-Webster on divest

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with divest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for divest

Spanish Central: Translation of divest

Nglish: Translation of divest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of divest for Arabic Speakers

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