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 The bill is broken into four sections, the first of which specifically would divest federal resources from incarceration and policing. Kat Stafford, BostonGlobe.com, "Movement for Black Lives seeks sweeping legislative changes," 7 July 2020 Hegar also said West has refused to divest his financial portfolio if elected to the Senate, a charge that West denied. Dallas News, "Senate runoff contenders MJ Hegar, Royce West clash over Democratic credentials, ethics," 30 June 2020 Spanish restaurant Toro Bravo was an overnight hit upon opening in Northeast Portland in 2007, will divest himself from eight restaurants led by partner Ron Avni and Executive Chef Kasey Mills. oregonlive, "Chef John Gorham steps away from most Toro Bravo Inc. restaurants," 24 June 2020 Even the Vatican is calling on Catholics and the private sector to divest from fossil fuel companies and others that fuel climate change. Matt Egan, CNN, "30% of shale oil companies could go belly up if crude stays this cheap," 23 June 2020 The penalties, according to a draft of the document seen by Bloomberg, may include restricting access to the EU market or forcing companies to divest parts of their business. Aoife White, Bloomberg.com, "EU Outlines New Powers to Protect Firms From Chinese Takeovers," 23 June 2020 Last month, more that 40 faith organizations from around the world, more than half of them Catholic, pledged to divest from fossil fuel companies. NBC News, "Vatican urges Catholics to drop investments in fossil fuels, arms," 18 June 2020 Trump’s corruption by asking members of Congress to enact a law requiring that presidents divest conflicting financial interests. Walter M. Shaub Jr., The New York Review of Books, "Ransacking the Republic," 17 June 2020 Many advocates want to divest from law enforcement agencies and reinvest that money in communities that are often underserved and over-policed. oregonlive, "Defunding the Portland police: The local abolition movement, explained," 16 June 2020

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

19 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Divest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest. Accessed 12 Aug. 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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