[dih-vest, dahy-]

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 formsun·di·vest·ed, adjective

Synonyms for divest

1. unclothe, denude. 2. See strip1.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for divest

Contemporary Examples of divest

Historical Examples of divest

  • 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 (tr 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 Formsdivestible, adjectivedivestiture (daɪˈvɛstɪtʃə), divesture (daɪˈvɛstʃə) or divestment, noun

Word Origin for divest

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

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