verb di·vest \ dī-ˈvest , də- \
|Updated on: 15 Aug 2018

Definition of divest

1 a : 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


play \-ˈves(t)-mənt\ noun

divest was our Word of the Day on 02/02/2018. Hear the podcast!

Examples of divest in a Sentence

  1. The company is divesting 8 of its 20 stores.

  2. We may have to divest assets to raise capital.

Recent Examples of divest from the Web

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.

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."

Origin and Etymology of divest

alteration of devest

DIVEST Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of divest for English Language Learners

  • finance : to sell (something valuable, such as property or stocks)

Law Dictionary


transitive verb di·vest \ dī-ˈvest, də- \

legal Definition of divest

: to deprive or dispossess (oneself) of property through divestiture



Origin and Etymology of 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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very hard to disturb or upset

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