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Alteration of devest, from Middle French devester (strip of possessions), from Old French desvestir, from des- (dis-) + vestir (to clothe).


  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /daɪˈvɛst/, /dɪˈvɛst/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ɛst


divest (third-person singular simple present divests, present participle divesting, simple past and past participle divested)

  1. (transitive, archaic) To undress, disrobe.
    • 1897, Henry James, What Maisie Knew:
      Having divested the child he kissed her gently and gave her a little pat to make her stand off.
  2. (transitive) To strip, deprive, or dispossess (someone) of something (such as a right, passion, privilege, or prejudice).
    You shall never divest me of my right to free speech.
    When I wake up, I make a point to divest myself of all my prejudices, ready to start the day.
  3. (transitive) To sell off or be rid of through sale, especially of a subsidiary
    In 2011 the company divested an 81% majority stake in its foreign subsidiary.
    As Glasgow becomes the first university in Europe to divest from fossil fuels.

Usage notesEdit

In sense "sell off", stronger than related disinvest, which instead means "reduce or cease new investment".


Related termsEdit


See alsoEdit