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

Synonyms & Antonyms for divest


clear, disburden, disencumber, free, relieve, rid, unburden


burden, encumber, saddle

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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

Intriguingly, her research shows that the divesting firms also improve their financial performance after a spin-off. The Economist, "John Flannery gets down to business restructuring General Electric," 27 June 2018 The North Koreans insist the United States must withdraw its troops and nuclear protection from South Korea and Japan before Pyongyang begins to divest its weapons. Trudy Rubin, Philly.com, "Trump thinks his personal relationships with dictators will save the world. He's wrong | Trudy Rubin," 15 June 2018 Instead, the fund lost approximately $79 million over that period by failing to divest from fossil fuels. BostonGlobe.com, "Should Massachusetts divest its pension fund from fossil fuel companies?," 15 June 2018 Some state pension funds have begun divesting from gun manufacturers, including the California Public Employees’ Retirement System and the New York State Teachers’ Retirement System. Lois K. Solomon, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Broward teachers want state to divest from gun funds," 14 June 2018 The University of Washington pledged in 2015 to divest from coal, and has shed its direct holdings, according to Victor Balta, a spokesman for the school. NBC News, "Leaked documents show fossil fuel holdings of green nonprofits," 17 May 2018 Critics of the water authority have questioned whether efforts to divest from the Met have been in ratepayers’ best interest — or the result of a longstanding feud. Joshua Emerson Smith, sandiegouniontribune.com, "San Diego's efforts to divest from rival L.A. water agency have driven up rates for residents. Is it worth it?," 1 July 2018 That separation means that if the Justice Department appeals and wins, Turner can be more easily divested. David Mclaughlin, Bloomberg.com, "AT&T Closes $85 Billion Time Warner Deal," 15 June 2018 The filing noted that Kushner divested his stakes before joining the White House but did not report the assets previously because of an accounting oversight. chicagotribune.com, "Jared Kushner, Ivanka Trump made at least $82 million in outside income last year while serving in the White House, filings show," 12 June 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

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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Phrases Related to divest

divest of

Statistics for divest

Last Updated

26 Sep 2018

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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

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