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



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 notes[edit]

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


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