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 ...”

Example Sentences

The company is divesting 8 of its 20 stores. We may have to divest assets to raise capital.
Recent Examples on the Web American Airlines and US Airways agreed to similar concessions before they were allowed to merge, and JetBlue has already indicated plans to divest assets at some airports. Joe Mazur, The Conversation, 11 Mar. 2023 Heineken said such hurdles had delayed its efforts to divest. Liz Alderman, New York Times, 2 Mar. 2023 In recent years, universities, foundations and public pension funds across the country have announced plans to divest from oil, gas and coal companies in response to the growing threat of climate change. Dallas News, 2 May 2022 At the same time, multinational corporations headquartered in the West, such as BP, Coca-Cola, and Visa, abandoned their Russian operations or announced intentions to divest from their longstanding Russian investments. Adam Strauss, Forbes, 30 Apr. 2022 Public pension plans in several states have faced pressure to divest stakes in firearms companies. Bob Christie, ajc, 18 Feb. 2022 But Fink’s letter also drew fire from climate advocates, who accused the BlackRock CEO of shirking his own pledge to divest from polluting industries. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 19 Jan. 2022 That understanding of customer behavior could be disrupted if Google were required to divest or break up its third-party ad business, ad industry executives said. Sam Schechner, WSJ, 1 Nov. 2022 In other cases, American firms were required to divest themselves of a sensitive product or technology before the transaction could go through. David E. Sanger, New York Times, 15 Sep. 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.

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 28 Mar. 2023.

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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