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 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 Harvard University will divest itself from holdings in fossil fuels, President Lawrence Bacow said Thursday. From Usa Today Network And Wire Reports, USA TODAY, 15 Sep. 2021 Harvard joins the ranks of a few prestigious universities that have pledged to divest from fossils after previously resisting student calls to do so. Eamon Barrett, Fortune, 15 Sep. 2021 Cities such as Berkeley, California, and Portland, Oregon, have voted to divest from certain companies targeted by BDS activists, but no city has voted to support the BDS movement as a whole. Asaf Shalev, sun-sentinel.com, 14 Sep. 2021 Arizona will divest state funds from the parent company of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Treasurer Kimberly Yee said. Isabella Martillaro, The Arizona Republic, 9 Sep. 2021 Chuck explains the context to Ira, that this was part of a movement to get the university to divest from companies upholding apartheid in South Africa, and that Chuck needed to beat his opponent for moral reasons. Kyle Fowle, EW.com, 6 Sep. 2021 Pension funds would have to divest from fossil fuels by 2035. Bill Mckibben, The New Yorker, 1 Sep. 2021 For instance, Texas legislators have advanced a bill aimed at forcing state funds to divest from investment funds that discriminate against fossil fuels. Dan Eberhart, Forbes, 3 July 2021 Amador refers to a 1948 court decision commonly known as the Paramount Decrees, when the Supreme Court ruled that the five major studios must divest themselves of their exhibition arms and thereby end their monopoly over theatrical distribution. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, 27 Aug. 2021

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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Last Updated

18 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Divest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest. Accessed 18 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for divest



English Language Learners Definition of divest

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


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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