1. capable of being dispensed with or done without; not necessary or essential.
  2. capable of being dispensed or administered: The money is not dispensable at present.
  3. Roman Catholic Church. capable of being permitted or forgiven, as an offense or sin.

Origin of dispensable

1525–35; < Medieval Latin dispēnsābilis, equivalent to Latin dispēns(āre) to distribute by weight (see dispense) + -ābilis -able
Related formsdis·pen·sa·bil·i·ty, dis·pen·sa·ble·ness, nounnon·dis·pens·a·ble, adjectiveun·dis·pen·sa·ble, adjective

Synonyms for dispensable

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for dispensability


  1. not essential; expendable
  2. capable of being distributed
  3. (of a law, vow, etc) able to be relaxed
Derived Formsdispensability or dispensableness, noun
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 dispensability



1530s, "subject to dispensation," from Medieval Latin dispensabilis, from dispensare (see dispense). Meaning "that can be done without" is from 1640s. Related: Dispensability.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

dispensability in Medicine


  1. Capable of being dispensed, administered, or distributed. Used of a drug.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.