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

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 JetBlue offered to divest all Spirit assets in New York and Boston if needed to avoid gaining greater market share in those cities, the carrier said in a separate statement. Mary Schlangenstein, Fortune, 2 May 2022 Connecticut joins California, Georgia, Oregon, Pennsylvania and other states that are moving to divest state assets from Russian interests. Stephen Singer, courant.com, 1 Mar. 2022 The state would immediately divest from any institution found in the review, Hochul, a Democrat, said. NBC News, 26 Feb. 2022 Fresh off the 2016 election, federal ethics officials were pushing Trump to divest his real estate assets. Chris Cillizza, CNN, 5 Oct. 2021 Investors choose to divest from fossil fuels, for example, or other companies that go against their principles. Sarah Keohane Williamson, Forbes, 1 Nov. 2021 Council members have denounced the invasion, urged the city’s pension funds to divest from Russian assets and launched efforts to make Kyiv a sister city. David Zahniser, Los Angeles Times, 10 Mar. 2022 The agency is seeking to force Altria to divest its stake and terminate the companies’ noncompete agreement. Jennifer Maloney, WSJ, 2 June 2021 But in a post-COP26 environment, many people are now joining the dots between the sectors in a way that goes far beyond the traditional calls for pension funds to divest any stocks in polluting companies. Jamie Hailstone, Forbes, 26 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

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

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Divest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest. Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for divest


transitive verb
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

More from Merriam-Webster on divest

Nglish: Translation of divest for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of divest for Arabic Speakers


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