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 Before Trump was inaugurated, the man who was then the head of the Office of Government Ethics, Walter Shaub, called on him to divest his businesses. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Next Big Challenge: Trump-Proofing the Presidency," 29 Dec. 2020 That’s essentially what the FTC on a 3-2 vote and the AGs are seeking with their lawsuits that asks courts to force Facebook to divest its Instagram (2012) and WhatsApp (2014) acquisitions. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Breaking Up Facebook," 10 Dec. 2020 In 1974, the Justice Department sought an order requiring the phone giant to divest its equipment subsidiary, Western Electric. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune, "Will Facebook have to spin off WhatsApp and Instagram? Unlikely," 10 Dec. 2020 ByteDance previously faced a Nov. 27 deadline to divest TikTok’s U.S. business, but was granted a one-week extension by Treasury’s Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States. Washington Post, "TikTok sale deadline will pass, though regulators will hold off on enforcing divestiture," 5 Dec. 2020 In a letter penned to Platinum Equity in March 2019, Worth Rises urged the company to divest from Securus by the end of 2020. Omari Sankofa Ii, Detroit Free Press, "Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores and Securus: A relationship bound to end, but when?," 5 Feb. 2021 This past year, Stiklorius joined the Movement for Black Lives Artist Council in support of The BREATHE Act, which would divest tax money from policing. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "Billboard Change Agents: Leaders Stepping Up In A Year of Turmoil," 28 Jan. 2021 Unlike his predecessors, Trump refused to divest from his sprawling business empire. Brian Slodysko, ajc, "Trump frees former aides from ethics pledge, lobbying ban," 20 Jan. 2021 Florida's government is taking steps to divest state funds from major technology corporations accused of censoring conservative voices. Carly Roman, Washington Examiner, "Florida state government considers divesting state funds from Big Tech," 12 Jan. 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

26 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Divest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest. Accessed 3 Mar. 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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