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 If companies do not prioritize ESG, Kurt Harrison, co-head of Russell Reynolds Associates’ sustainability practice, warned that asset managers may divest their shares, thereby lowering stock prices and pressuring CEOs. Jason Wingard, Forbes, "ESG And The Future Of Work: 3 Strategies Every Leader Should Know," 19 Apr. 2021 Thirty-four student groups joined Columbia’s campaign to divest from Israel, including the Black Students Organization and Native American Council. John Leland, New York Times, "What Zoom Does to Campus Conflicts Over Israel and Free Speech," 22 Jan. 2021 Companies that violate regulations on acquisitions may be forced to divest assets, share intellectual property or technologies, or open up infrastructure to competitors and adjust their algorithms. Bloomberg.com, "Down $290 Billion, China Tech Investors Wargame Worst-Case Scenarios," 11 Nov. 2020 Georgetown made another step toward its sustainability goals earlier this year when officials shared plans to divest from fossil fuel companies, in part because of the threat of climate change. Washington Post, "Georgetown University to power campus with electricity from solar plants," 29 Oct. 2020 But as the costs rise — and the insurers quit, and the bankers divest, and the farm subsidies prove too wasteful, and so on — the full weight of responsibility will fall on individual people. Meridith Kohut, ProPublica, "Climate Change Will Force a New American Migration," 15 Sep. 2020 Y’all have to divest from making art that FEEDS your trauma. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, "Who Is Them For? Because It’s Not Us.," 14 Apr. 2021 The couple—who met on a kibbutz in the 1980s and who, in 2016, signed up to the Giving Pledge, the philanthropic commitment created by Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett to divest wealth—moved to Israel full-time in 2015. Carlton Reid, Forbes, "Billionaire Philanthropist Sylvan Adams Aims For The Moon Via Madonna And A Bicycle," 10 Apr. 2021 That prompted what was then Boston Edison to divest its power plants, essentially forcing it out of the generation business. BostonGlobe.com, "Eversource promotes Joe Nolan to CEO, taking over from Jim Judge," 7 Apr. 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

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Divest.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/divest. Accessed 13 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for divest



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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