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[dih-vest, dahy-] /dɪˈvɛst, daɪ-/
verb (used with object)
to strip of clothing, ornament, etc.:
The wind divested the trees of their leaves.
to strip or deprive (someone or something), especially of property or rights; dispossess.
to rid of or free from:
He divested himself of all responsibility for the decision.
Law. to take away or alienate (property, rights, etc.).
  1. to sell off:
    to divest holdings.
  2. to rid of through sale:
    The corporation divested itself of its subsidiaries.
Origin of divest
1595-1605; < Medieval Latin dīvestīre, equivalent to dī- di-2 + vestīre to dress, vest
Related forms
undivested, adjective
1. unclothe, denude. 2. See strip1 . Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for divest
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • No, no, he could not divest himself of that gown which clung so tightly to his flesh.

  • It is difficult to divest the mind of facts with which it is most familiar.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • He was in a hurry to divest himself of everything recalling the peasant.

  • Our proclivity to details cannot quite degrade our life and divest it of poetry.

    Essays, Second Series Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • She will have to divest herself of all her "Kilgobbinries" ere I present her to my friends in town.'

    Lord Kilgobbin Charles Lever
British Dictionary definitions for divest


verb (transitive) usually foll by of
to strip (of clothes): to divest oneself of one's coat
to deprive or dispossess
(property law) to take away an estate or interest in property vested (in a person)
Derived Forms
divestible, adjective
divestiture (daɪˈvɛstɪtʃə), divesture (daɪˈvɛstʃə), divestment, noun
Word Origin
C17: changed from earlier devest
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 divest

1560s, devest (modern spelling is c.1600), from Middle French devester "strip of possessions," from Old French desvestir, from des- "away" (see dis-) + vestir "to clothe" (see vest (v.)).

The figurative sense of "strip of possessions" is earliest in English; reflexive sense of "to strip oneself of" is from c.1600. Economic sense (implied in divestment) is from 1955. Related: Divested; divesting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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