- To devolve is to delegate or pass on power especially to someone at a lower level, or to change for the worse.
- When a federal government leader delegates power to lower-ranked state leaders, this is an example of when power devolves.
- When a unified country splits up and dissolves into different governing states, this is an example of when the country devolves.
transitive verbdevolved, devolving
Origin of devolveMiddle English devolven ; from Classical Latin devolvere, to roll down ; from de-, down + volvere, to roll: see walk
- to pass or be transferred to another or others
- to change gradually for the worse; decline; deteriorate
verbde·volved, de·volv·ing, de·volves
- To pass on or delegate to another: The senator devolved the duties of office upon a group of aides.
- Archaic To cause to roll onward or downward.
- To be passed on or transferred to another: The burden of proof devolved upon the defendant. The estate devolved to an unlikely heir.
- To degenerate or deteriorate gradually: After several hours the discussion had devolved into a shouting match.
- Archaic To roll onward or downward.
Origin of devolveMiddle English devolven, to transfer, from Old French devolver, to confer, ascribe, from Latin dēvolvere, to roll down, fall to : dē-, de- + volvere, to roll; see wel-2 in Indo-European roots.
(third-person singular simple present devolves, present participle devolving, simple past and past participle devolved)
- 1830, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Character:
- He spake of virtue […] And with […] a lack-lustre dead-blue eye, Devolved his rounded periods.
- (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.]
- To delegate (a responsibility, duty etc.) on or upon someone. [from 17th c.]
- (intransitive) To fall as a duty or responsibility on or upon someone. [from 18th c.]
- (intransitive) To degenerate; to break down. [from 18th c.]
- A discussion about politics may devolve into a shouting match.
From Latin dēvolvō (“roll or tumble off or down”), from dē + volvō (“roll”).
devolve - Legal Definition