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 Why would Kroger buy and then divest so many stores in Arizona? Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, 12 July 2024 Protesters erected their encampment on the UCLA campus to demand the university divest any financial ties with Israel over the country’s ongoing war against Gaza in response to an Oct. 7, 2023, terrorist attack. Nathan Solis, Los Angeles Times, 21 June 2024 The company’s three-exec CEO team, installed after the ouster of Bob Bakish in late April, have outlined a go-it-alone strategy to slash costs through layoffs and other measures, divest certain assets and form a joint venture or other partnership to scale Paramount+. Todd Spangler, Variety, 19 June 2024 Forcing TikTok to divest from its Chinese owner is a good first step. Chris Roemer, Baltimore Sun, 29 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for divest 

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 24 Jul. 2024.

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

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