Definition of devolution in English:



mass noun
  • 1The transfer or delegation of power to a lower level, especially by central government to local or regional administration.

    ‘demands for electoral reform and devolution’
    ‘the devolution of power to the regions’
    • ‘Leading the way in Scotland would have been using the powers of devolution to benefit the nation.’
    • ‘Both are now looking for a Plan B and I suspect that the next crucial battleground will be local government reform and devolution to smaller and more powerful councils.’
    • ‘Despite the protests and violence, the issue that really has everyone worried is a planned devolution of power by the central government to the regions.’
    • ‘Postponing plans for a referendum on regional devolution has condemned Cumbria councils to a period of potentially damaging uncertainty.’
    • ‘At Westminster their more thoughtful colleagues have started a debate about choice in public services and devolution of power to head teachers, hospitals and senior police officers.’
    • ‘Constitutional amendments have mandated devolution of powers to the third tier of government.’
    • ‘The process of devolution and restructuring of local government in Ireland that generated the project has been under way for some years.’
    • ‘Strategic health authorities would also be disbanded and foundation hospitals would be redundant as the devolution of power down to the local level would exceed the current powers they enjoy.’
    • ‘Health care, regional development and the devolution of powers to the territorial governments will figure prominently in all those meetings.’
    • ‘And devolution has transformed British politics.’
    • ‘Even after devolution, local government had little autonomy.’
    • ‘If he had, he would have known with an awful clarity that devolution of power to a local level does nothing at all to reduce coercion or gross unfairness.’
    • ‘In most instances widespread corruption, relatively centralised health policy making, and poor devolution to local governments lie at the core of the problem.’
    • ‘Through the decentralization and devolution of state power to ethnic groups it hopes to dilute ethnicity and fashion a cohesive society.’
    • ‘The cutbacks would mark a halt to the massive expansion within the civil service and local authorities since devolution.’
    • ‘But this month's emphatic rejection of limited devolution powers by the people of north-east England appears to have put that plan on hold.’
    • ‘The devolution of political power to Scotland, and to a lesser extent to Wales, has changed the political landscape.’
    • ‘Quebec's perennial threat of separation from Canada has only been forestalled by massive devolution of governing powers from Ottawa to Quebec City.’
    • ‘The lack of an overarching threat meant devolution of power away from central authorities.’
    • ‘The devolution of power under the new regional autonomy laws has had an impact on fisheries management.’
    decentralization, delegation, dispersal, distribution, transfer, surrender, relinquishment
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1Law The legal transfer of property from one owner to another.
      • ‘First, there are rules governing the devolution of property by will.’
      • ‘Under these broad cultural practices, women became part of systems of inter-generational property devolution.’
      • ‘That exception covers devolution of property on death or other matters of personal law [as well as] the application of African customary law in any case involving Africans.’
      • ‘A telling sign of heightened stress within the patrilineal family is the rise of litigation over property devolution.’
      • ‘This produces the following devolution of title to the legal estate and the equitable interest.’
  • 2formal Descent to a lower or worse state.

    ‘the devolution of the gentlemanly ideal into a glorification of drunkenness’
    • ‘In our judgement the power struggle within the TFG has ended with its devolution into factionalism.’
    • ‘Branding is an effort at countering the devolution of a so-called proprietary good into a "commodity."’
    • ‘Michel begins with this last work, considering the artist not in terms of his evolution but, in an important sense, his devolution.’
    • ‘The headline says it all: ‘State stance on evolution a devolution into stupidity’.’
    • ‘The trilogy traces Neo's evolution from man to god and Morpheus' devolution from god to man.’
    • ‘Perhaps it's a natural devolution of the animal rights movement.’
    • ‘Keng's devolution in the second half is made incredibly evident.’
    1. 2.1Biology Evolutionary degeneration.
      • ‘This would help insure that any propagation of the human race worked toward evolution rather than devolution.’
      • ‘So if there is a developmental sequence for species, then anything that reverses that sequence is devolution and degeneration.’
      • ‘One more step in the devolution of the human brain.’
      • ‘Also, at best, vestigial organs could only prove devolution (loss of information), not evolution.’
      • ‘Evolution of a smaller jaw would at best be a result of devolution, dysgenics caused by the accumulation of mutations.’


Late 15th century (in the sense ‘transference by default’): from late Latin devolutio(n-), from Latin devolvere ‘roll down’ (see devolve).