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 ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.