[ dih-volv ]
/ dɪˈvɒlv /
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verb (used with object), de·volved, de·volv·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·volved, de·volv·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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“Was” is used for the indicative past tense of “to be,” and “were” is only used for the subjunctive past tense.

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Origin of devolve

1375–1425; late Middle English devolven<Latin dēvolvere to roll down, equivalent to dē-de- + volvere to roll


de·volve·ment, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021

Example sentences from the Web for devolve

British Dictionary definitions for devolve

/ (dɪˈvɒlv) /


(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 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