verb (used with or without object), noun

Related formsout·des·patch, verb (used with object)un·des·patched, adjective


or des·patch


verb (used with object)

to send off or away with speed, as a messenger, telegram, body of troops, etc.
to dismiss (a person), as after an audience.
to put to death; kill: The spy was promptly dispatched.
to transact or dispose of (a matter) promptly or speedily.

verb (used without object)

Archaic. to hasten; be quick.


the sending off of a messenger, letter, etc., to a destination.
the act of putting to death; killing; execution.
prompt or speedy transaction, as of business.
expeditious performance; promptness or speed: Proceed with all possible dispatch.
  1. a method of effecting a speedy delivery of goods, money, etc.
  2. a conveyance or organization for the expeditious transmission of goods, money, etc.
a written message sent with speed.
an official communication sent by special messenger.
Journalism. a news story transmitted to a newspaper, wire service, or the like, by one of its reporters, or by a wire service to a newspaper or other news agency.

Origin of dispatch

1510–20; < Italian dispacciare to hasten, speed, or < Spanish despachar both ultimately < Old French despeechier to unshackle, equivalent to des- dis-1 + -peechier < Late Latin -pedicāre to shackle; see impeach
Related formsout·dis·patch, verb (used with object)pre·dis·patch, noun, verb (used with object)re·dis·patch, verb (used with object)self-dis·patch, nounun·dis·patched, adjectiveun·dis·patch·ing, adjective

Synonyms for dispatch Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for despatch

Historical Examples of despatch

  • Shall be happy to facilitate any despatch you may wish forwarded to your Government.

  • He then summoned Madame Dufour, and sent her with his despatch.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • The latter took the despatch, and opened it, directing Jenkins to sign the paper.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • This was the despatch which you saw Mr. Galloway receive in his office.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

  • Now, it is impossible that any despatch could tell him that.

    The Channings

    Mrs. Henry Wood

British Dictionary definitions for despatch



(tr) a less common spelling of dispatch
Derived Formsdespatcher, noun



verb (tr)

to send off promptly, as to a destination or to perform a task
to discharge or complete (a task, duty, etc) promptly
informal to eat up quickly
to murder or execute


the act of sending off a letter, messenger, etc
prompt action or speed (often in the phrase with dispatch)
an official communication or report, sent in haste
journalism a report sent to a newspaper, etc, by a correspondent
murder or execution
Derived Formsdispatcher, noun

Word Origin for dispatch

C16: from Italian dispacciare, from Provençal despachar, from Old French despeechier to set free, from des- dis- 1 + -peechier, ultimately from Latin pedica a fetter
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for despatch

18c. variant of dispatch (q.v.), apparently the result of an error in the printing of Johnson's dictionary.



1510s, "to send off in a hurry," from a word in Spanish (despachar "expedite, hasten") or Italian (dispacciare "to dispatch"). For first element, see dis-. The exact source of the second element has been proposed as Vulgar Latin *pactare "to fasten, fix" or *pactiare, or as Latin -pedicare "to entrap" (from Latin pedica "shackle;" see impeach); and the Spanish and Italian words seem to be related to (perhaps opposites of) Old Provençal empachar "impede." See OED for full discussion. Meaning "to get rid of by killing" is attested from 1520s. Related: Dispatched; dispatching. As a noun, from 1540s, originally "dismissal;" sense of "a message sent speedily" is first attested 1580s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper