Latin IS English!

February 27, 2008

Word of the Day: “divest”

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for February 27, 2008 is: divest • dye-VEST  • verb1 a : to deprive or dispossess especially of property, authority, or title; b : to undress or strip especially of clothing, ornament, or equipment; c : rid, free 2 : to take away from a person.

Example sentence: When tests revealed that the athlete had been taking steroids, Olympic officials divested him of his medal. 

Did you know? Divest” is one of many English words that come from the Latin verb “vestire” (“to clothe“) and ultimately from the noun “vestis” (“clothing, garment”). Others includevest,” “vestment,” “invest,” and “travesty.” “Divest” and its older form “devest” can mean “to unclothe” or “to remove the clothing of,” but the word had broader applications even when it was first being used in the 16th and 17th centuries. In the opening scene of Shakespeare’s King Lear, Lear uses the term to mean “rid oneself of” or “put aside”:

“Tell me, my daughters             

(Since now we will divest us both of rule, Interest of territory, cares of state),

Which of you shall we say doth love us most?”    

In addition to clothing, one can be divested of power, authority, possessions, or burdens. *Indicates the sense illustrated in the example sentence.

[Blogger’s Note:  “Now, who would’ve ‘thunk’ it?!”]

 

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