Word of the Day : September 10, 2016

devolve

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verb dih-VAHLV

Definition

1 a : to pass by transmission or succession

b : to fall or be passed usually as a responsibility or obligation

2 : to come by or as if by flowing down

3 : to degenerate through a gradual change or evolution

Did You Know?

Devolve evolved from Latin volvere, a word that means "to roll." The prefix de- means "down." (Other words that revolve around volvere are the five other words containing -vol- found in this paragraph.) Knowing which preposition to use with devolve can seem a bit involved, but it's really not all that convoluted. Responsibility or rights devolve "on," "upon," or "to" someone. When something comes into a present state by flowing down from a source, either literally or figuratively, we say "devolve from," as in "customs that devolve from old beliefs." And when the devolving is a downward evolution to a lower state we say "devolves into" (or sometimes "devolves to"), as in "order devolves into chaos."


Examples

Over time, the weekly book club meeting devolved into mean-spirited gossip sessions.

"… with whiplash speed, this heart-warming tale has devolved into an internet-fueled soap opera." — Craig Schneider, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, 31 July 2016



Word Family Quiz

Fill in the blanks to create a noun derived from Latin volvere that refers to a spiral or scroll-shaped form: v _ lu _ _.

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