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 divestment (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 Besides forcing Ticketmaster to divest several assets and temporarily license its technology to AEG, the company was barred from retaliating against venues and promoters that didn't use its technology. Dave Brooks, Billboard, "House Reps to DOJ: Examine Live Nation Consent Decree's 'Fundamental Shortcomings'," 12 Dec. 2019 Sprint agreed to divest its discount carrier brands as one of the conditions to get the Justice Department to approve the T-Mobile merger. Edward C. Baig, USA TODAY, "Forget 5G. Founder wants Boost Mobile back to keep prices for budget customers low," 18 Nov. 2019 Originally under the Fox umbrella, Disney obtained Fox’s assets for $71.3 billion in 2018, but was required to divest itself of the regional sports networks as a condition of the sale. Wells Dusenbury, sun-sentinel.com, "Heat and Panthers TV ratings soar amid hot starts; Marlins online viewership increases," 5 Nov. 2019 Around the same time of the Reuters report, Kunlun publicly agreed to divest Grindr to another buyer by June, 2020. Kate Cox, Ars Technica, "Congress concerned teenagers’ favorite app is national security threat," 25 Oct. 2019 And his personal refusal to fully divest himself from his business empire both violates the Constitution and opens him up to allegation after allegation of corrupt self-enrichment. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "National Review’s Strained Defense of Trump," 8 Oct. 2019 Universities have an imperative to recognize the intersectionality of climate justice and divest from these unethical, extractive and exploitative industries. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Protesters Interrupt Harvard-Yale Football Game to Fight Back Against Climate Change," 24 Nov. 2019 Sanat Singhal, a 16-year-old Cupertino High student, is part of the Cupertino action team currently lobbying its city council to ban natural gas and divest from fossil fuels. Michelle Pitcher, The Mercury News, "‘Last generation’ strikes to change views on climate change," 14 Sep. 2019 The trip’s itinerary was in harmony with the women’s political views: both support boycotting, sanctioning and divesting (BDS) from Israel to protest against and change the country’s treatment of Palestinians. The Economist, "Donald Trump presses Israel into barring entry to American congresswomen," 16 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for divest

Time Traveler

The first known use of divest was in 1623

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Last Updated

14 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Divest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest. Accessed 26 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for divest


How to pronounce divest (audio)

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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More from Merriam-Webster on divest

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for divest

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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