devolution

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dev·o·lu·tion

(dev'ō-lū'shŭn),
A continuing process of degeneration or breaking down, in contrast to evolution.
See also: involution, catabolism.
[L. de-volvo, pp. -volutus, to roll down]

devolution

(dĕv′ə-lo͞o′shən, dē′və-)
n.
1. A passing down or descent through successive stages of time or a process.
2. Transference, as of rights or qualities, to a successor.
3. Delegation of authority or duties to a subordinate or substitute.
4. A transfer of powers from a central government to local units.
5. Biology Degeneration.

dev′o·lu′tion·ar′y (-shə-nĕr′ē) adj.
dev′o·lu′tion·ist n.
References in classic literature ?
Much there had been to occupy my attention since that terrible moment; but never for an instant had the memory of the thing faded, and all the time that I could spare from the numerous duties that had devolved upon me in the reconstruction of the government of the First Born since our victorious fleet and land forces had overwhelmed them, had been spent close to the grim shaft that held the mother of my boy, Carthoris of Helium.
The horror of the situation came to him very slowly, and it is doubtful that he ever fully realized the enormity of his sorrow and the fearful responsibility that had devolved upon him with the care of that wee thing, his son, still a nursing babe.
In other words, on David now devolved the task of being good until he was eight, while Oliver clung to him so closely that the one could not be wrecked without the other.
Such time as he could find from the many duties which had devolved upon him in the matter of obtaining and outfitting the schooner, and signing her two mates and crew of fifteen, had been spent with his employer's daughter.
Besides, there were Dad's plans, and I felt that it devolved upon me to carry them out.
It was not until I tied the Razzle Dazzle up to the wharf and got ashore in the congregating places of men, where drink flowed, that the buying of drinks for other men, and the accepting of drinks from other men, devolved upon me as a social duty and a manhood rite.
The engagement of the workmen, their pay, and all the necessary details of the work, devolved upon the Coldspring Company.
But upon me had devolved the task of tending their wounds, and pulling them through, and I did my best by them.
For though the old Baronet survived many months, he never recovered the use of his intellect or his speech completely, and the government of the estate devolved upon his elder son.
I figure to myself that the task of attending on your sickbed has devolved on some mercenary old nurse, who could never guess your wishes nor minister to them with the care and affection of your poor cousin.
Accordingly, I told her in plain words that the charge of the sick lady henceforth devolved entirely on myself.
After a few short explanations concerning the character of this new danger, the old man, on whom the whole duty of directing their movements was devolved, in deference to his great experience, continued his discourse as follows--