1 a : to deprive or dispossess especially of property, authority, or title
b : to undress or strip especially of clothing, ornament, or equipment
2 : to take away from a person
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.
The court's ruling does not divest the family of their ability to use the property.
"A news release went out from Governor Andrew Cuomo's office, saying that New York was going to divest its vast pension-fund investments in fossil fuels." — Bill McKibben, The New Yorker, 21 Dec. 2017
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Name That Synonym
Fill in the blanks to complete a synonym of divest referring to dispossession: e _ _ r _ p _ i _ te.VIEW THE ANSWER
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP