di·​vest | \ dī-ˈvest , 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 \ -​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

The project of divesting is organized by Showing Up for Racial Justice (SURJ), a nationwide organization that tries to get white Americans working on behalf of racial justice. Julie Zauzmer, Washington Post, "Churches make a drastic pledge in the name of social justice: To stop calling the police," 19 Apr. 2018 Some participants in the news conference noted that under Mayor de Blasio, the city's pension funds had previously divested from companies involved in the coal industry, as well as from private prison companies. Author: William Neuman, Anchorage Daily News, "New York City sues oil producers over climate change," 11 Jan. 2018 Seattle University will become the first university in Washington state to divest its endowment of fossil fuels over the next five years. Katherine Long, The Seattle Times, "Seattle University will become first college in state to divest of fossil fuels," 19 Sep. 2018 Force of habit The transportation business is not the first one GE has divested from in recent years. Hallie Detrick, Fortune, "Why GE Is Trying to Spin Off Its Transportation Business," 21 May 2018 California lawmakers required the state’s pension funds to divest any coal holding. Bloomberg.com, "The War on Coal Is Making the World’s Top Mine Owners a Lot Richer," 1 May 2018 Those Rockefellers who tried to sell their stock found that much of it was tied up in a trust whose managers rejected requests to divest. Reeves Wiedeman, Daily Intelligencer, "The Rockefellers vs. the Company That Made Them Rockefellers," 7 Jan. 2018 Among their demands: insisting the UW divest holdings in major national hedge funds and banks that hold investments in the private prison industry. Michelle Baruchman, The Seattle Times, "Trump pick for acting defense secretary brings a knack for complex issues honed at UW, Boeing," 24 Dec. 2018 Institutions now divesting from arms makers include some of the largest in the nation, such as California’s public employees’ and teachers’ pension funds, Chicago teachers’ pension funds and New York City’s employee pension funds. Matt Wirz, WSJ, "More Institutional Investors Say No to Tobacco, Weapons," 23 Nov. 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

14 Feb 2019

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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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