[ dih-volv ]
/ d瑟藞v蓲lv /
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Definition of devolve

verb (used with object), de路volved, de路volv路ing.
to transfer or delegate (a duty, responsibility, etc.) to or upon another; pass on.
Obsolete. to cause to roll downward.
verb (used without object), de路volved, de路volv路ing.
to be transferred or passed on from one to another: The responsibility devolved on me.
Archaic. to roll or flow downward.
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鈥淲as鈥 is used for the indicative past tense of 鈥渢o be,鈥 and 鈥渨ere鈥 is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

Origin of devolve

1375鈥1425; late Middle English devolven<Latin d膿volvere to roll down, equivalent to d膿-de- + volvere to roll


de路volve路ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, 漏 Random House, Inc. 2022


What does devolve mean?

To devolve means to transfer or pass on from one to another, as in The discussion about world economics devolved into talking about who earns more money.

To devolve also means to delegate or pass on responsibility to another, as in When the governor stepped down from office, his duties devolved to the lieutenant governor.

Example: I usually devolve my weekly writeup to my assistant.

Where does devolve come from?

The first records of the term devolve come from the 1300s. It ultimately comes from the Latin d膿volvere, meaning 鈥渢o roll down.鈥 Devolve was once used to mean 鈥渞oll down,鈥 but now it is more often used to mean 鈥渄elegate or pass down,鈥 which is a rolling down of sorts.

One figurative use of devolve is as an antonym for evolve. When used this way, it combines the meaning of 鈥渄elegation鈥 with the meaning of 鈥渞olling down鈥 to describe a scene or event that has become chaotic and unsupportable.

Did you know 鈥 ?

What are some other forms related to devolve?聽

  • devolving (noun)
  • devolvement (noun)

What are some synonyms for devolve?

What are some words that share a root or word element with devolve?

What are some words that often get used in discussing devolve?

How is devolve used in real life?

Devolve is usually used in business analytics or general business discussions to talk about shifting the responsibilities of one member of a company to another.



Try using devolve!

Is devolve used correctly in the following sentence?

The whole show devolved into a complicated mess that no one could follow.

How to use devolve in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for devolve

/ (d瑟藞v蓲lv) /

(foll by on, upon, to, etc) to pass or cause to pass to a successor or substitute, as duties, power, etc
(intr; foll by on or upon) law (of an estate, etc) to pass to another by operation of law, esp on intestacy or bankruptcy
(intr; 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 of devolve

devolvement, noun

Word Origin for devolve

C15: from Latin d膿volvere to roll down, fall into, from de- + volvere to roll
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition 漏 William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 漏 HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012