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 ...”

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 Faust’s sense of political isolation heightened over the past two months, as classmates erected tents at the pro-Palestinian encampment and called for Columbia to divest from Israel. Emma Goldberg, New York Times, 28 May 2024 Ahead of President Joe Biden's campaign stop at the 69th annual Detroit Branch NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner, protesters gathered outside Huntington Place Sunday, advocating for the U.S. to divest from Israel. Jalen Williams, Detroit Free Press, 19 May 2024 The complaints came during a crackdown on students from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago calling for the institution to divest from Israel outside of its namesake art museum on Michigan Avenue on Saturday, May 4. USA TODAY, 15 May 2024 Wednesday's unrest comes amid weeks of protests breaking out at universities across the country, calling for institutions to divest from companies that financially support Israel. Leah Sarnoff, ABC News, 15 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for divest 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'divest.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

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 14 Jun. 2024.

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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