from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To pass on or delegate to another: The senator devolved the duties of office upon a group of aides.
  • transitive v. Archaic To cause to roll onward or downward.
  • intransitive v. To be passed on or transferred to another: The burden of proof devolved upon the defendant. The estate devolved to an unlikely heir.
  • intransitive v. To degenerate or deteriorate gradually: After several hours the discussion had devolved into a shouting match.
  • intransitive v. Archaic To roll onward or downward.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. to delegate something to someone else
  • v. to be inherited by someone; to come into the hands of
  • v. to slowly degrade

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To pass by transmission or succession; to be handed over or down; -- generally with on or upon, sometimes with to or into.
  • transitive v. To roll onward or downward; to pass on.
  • transitive v. To transfer from one person to another; to deliver over; to hand down; -- generally with upon, sometimes with to or into.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To roll downward or onward.
  • To transfer, as from one person to another; turn over; transmit.
  • To roll down; come or arrive by rolling down or onward.
  • To be transferred or transmitted; pass from one to another; fall by succession or transference.
  • To degenerate.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. grow worse
  • v. be inherited by
  • v. pass on or delegate to another


Middle 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.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin dēvolvō ("roll or tumble off or down"), from + volvō ("roll"). (Wiktionary)



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