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Webster 1913 Edition


Devolve

De-volve′

,
Verb.
T.
[
imp. & p. p.
Devolved
;
p. pr. & vb. n.
Devolving
.]
[L.
devolvere
,
devolutum
, to roll down;
de
+
volvere
to roll down;
de
+
volvere
to roll. See
Voluble
.]
1.
To roll onward or downward; to pass on.
Every headlong stream
Devolves
its winding waters to the main.
Akenside.
Devolved
his rounded periods.
Tennyson.
2.
To transfer from one person to another; to deliver over; to hand down; – generally with upon, sometimes with to or into.
They
devolved
a considerable share of their power upon their favorite.
Burke.
They
devolved
their whole authority into the hands of the council of sixty.
Addison.

De-volve′

,
Verb.
I.
To pass by transmission or succession; to be handed over or down; – generally with on or upon, sometimes with to or into;
as, after the general fell, the command
devolved
upon (or on) the next officer in rank
.
His estate . . .
devolved
to Lord Somerville.
Johnson.

Webster 1828 Edition


Devolve

DEVOLVE

,
Verb.
T.
devolv. [L., to roll.]
1.
To roll down; to pour or flow with windings.
Through splendid kingdoms he devolves his maze.
2.
To move from one person to another; to deliver over, or from one possessor to a successor.
The king devolved the care and disposition of affairs on the duke or Ormond.

DEVOLVE

,
Verb.
I.
devolv. Literally, to roll down; hence, to pass from one to another; to fall by succession from one possessor to his successor. In the absence of the commander in chief, the command devolved on the next officer in rank. On the death of the prince, the crown devolved on his eldest son.

Definition 2023


devolve

devolve

See also: devolvé

English

Verb

devolve (third-person singular simple present devolves, present participle devolving, simple past and past participle devolved)

  1. (obsolete, transitive) To roll (something) down; to unroll. [15th-19th c.]
    • 1744, Mark Akenside, The Pleasures of the Imagination, II:
      every headlong stream / Devolves its winding waters to the main.
    • 1830, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Character:
      He spake of virtue […] And with […] a lack-lustre dead-blue eye, Devolved his rounded periods.
  2. (intransitive) To be inherited by someone else; to pass down upon the next person in a succession, especially through failure or loss of an earlier holder. [from 16th c.]
    • 1932, Duff Cooper, Talleyrand, Folio Society 2010, p. 4:
      an accident […] rendered him permanently lame, and therefore unfitted him, in the opinion of his parents, to inherit his father's many titles, which, it was then arranged, should devolve upon his younger brother.
  3. (transitive) To delegate (a responsibility, duty, etc.) on or upon someone. [from 17th c.]
    • 1704, Joseph Addison, Remarks on Several Parts of Italy:
      They devolved their whole authority into the hands of the council of sixty.
    • 1756, Edmund Burke, A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful:
      An artful man became popular, the people had power in their hands, and they devolved a considerable share of their power upon their favourite […].
  4. (intransitive) To fall as a duty or responsibility on or upon someone. [from 18th c.]
    • 1922, James Joyce, Ulysses, Episode 16:
      For the nonce he was rather nonplussed but inasmuch as the duty plainly devolved upon him to take some measures on the subject he pondered suitable ways and means during which Stephen repeatedly yawned.
  5. (intransitive) To degenerate; to break down. [from 18th c.]
    A discussion about politics may devolve into a shouting match.

Usage notes

  • The verb is sometimes used in the context of biology, but generally not by scientists as it is highly subjective.

Related terms

Translations

Anagrams


Italian

Verb

devolve

  1. third-person singular present indicative of devolvere

Latin

Verb

dēvolve

  1. second-person singular present active imperative of dēvolvō

Portuguese

Verb

devolve

  1. third-person singular present indicative of devolver
  2. second-person singular imperative of devolver