v. de·volved, de·volv·ing, de·volves
1. To pass on or delegate to another: The senator devolved the duties of office upon a group of aides.
2. Archaic To cause to roll onward or downward.
1. To be passed on or transferred to another: The burden of proof devolved upon the defendant. The estate devolved to an unlikely heir.
2. To degenerate or deteriorate gradually: After several hours the discussion had devolved into a shouting match.
3. Archaic To roll onward or downward.
[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 the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.