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[dih-volv] /dɪˈvɒlv/
verb (used with object), devolved, devolving.
to transfer or delegate (a duty, responsibility, etc.) to or upon another; pass on.
Obsolete. to cause to roll downward.
verb (used without object), devolved, devolving.
to be transferred or passed on from one to another:
The responsibility devolved on me.
Archaic. to roll or flow downward.
Origin of devolve
late Middle English
1375-1425; late Middle English devolven < Latin dēvolvere to roll down, equivalent to dē- de- + volvere to roll
Related forms
devolvement, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for devolve
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Leisure for the grand duties which devolve on the lords of mankind.

    Cyropaedia Xenophon
  • Please bear in mind that it does not devolve upon you to decide that question.

    Peggy Stewart at School

    Gabrielle E. Jackson
  • Thou art his only son, and on thee his duties will now devolve.

  • Charlotte begged that on herself might devolve the care of furnishing it.

    Rich Enough Hannah Farnham Sawyer Lee
  • Your lands, your principalities, to devolve on the child of an humble Englishman!

    My Novel, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
British Dictionary definitions for devolve


foll by on, upon, to, etc. to pass or cause to pass to a successor or substitute, as duties, power, etc
(intransitive; foll by on or upon) (law) (of an estate, etc) to pass to another by operation of law, esp on intestacy or bankruptcy
(intransitive; foll by on or upon) to depend (on): your argument devolves on how you interpret this clause
(archaic) to roll down or cause to roll down
Derived Forms
devolvement, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin dēvolvere to roll down, fall into, from de- + volvere to roll
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for devolve

early 15c., "to roll down," from Latin devolvere "to roll down," from de- (see de-) + volvere "to roll" (see volvox). Figurative sense of "to cause to pass down" is from 1520s. Related: Devolved; devolving. Also in same sense was devolute (1530s), from Latin devolutus, past participle of devolvere.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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