I have a question about the word "devolve." The most traditional usage, if I judge by the OED, is to mean "to pass down to or onto," as in a title or an inheritance or similar. Other related meanings of "falling to" or "rolling down" to or upon are related to this. I see this quite a bit these days in British media in the discussion of Brexit. My question has to do with the usage I hear and see quite often now in the US which is to mean "deteriorate." I see this quite a lot in US publications (e.g. Newsweek recently: "Should ramped-up tensions between the U.S. and North Korea devolve into outright nuclear war..." or a recent article in Food and Wine magazine asking, "Will the concept evolve (devolve?) into murder-mystery theater?") I see it constantly in academic writing as well. The OED gives this usage as 8b, quite far down the list of meanings, and gives only one example (from 1830, a "scholar devolving into a buffoon"), origin obscure. Even though the origin of this usage seems to emerge before Darwin, I would guess that the widespread usage nowadays in this sense of degeneration is due to a conceptual pairing with "evolution" (implying positive progress), even though this is only based on an apparent similarity of devolve with "de-evolve," not a real etymological basis in the word. This usage seems wrong or at least questionable to me--but maybe I am just being too rigid.
Is this a usage that you deem legitimate enough to be tolerated, despite the misunderstanding of meaning that seems to drive it, or does the false foundation (evolve vs "devolve" rather than de-evolve) make it sloppy usage on some level? Or is it a popular misuse to be avoided, akin to sports athletes and everyone else claiming they feel "truly humbled" by a victory rather than honored?