[ dih-spens ]
See synonyms for: dispensedispensing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),dis·pensed, dis·pens·ing.
  1. to deal out; distribute: to dispense wisdom.

  2. to administer: to dispense the law without bias.

  1. Pharmacology. to make up and distribute (medicine), especially on prescription.

  2. Roman Catholic Church. to grant dispensation.

verb (used without object),dis·pensed, dis·pens·ing.
  1. to grant dispensation.

  1. Obsolete. expenditure.

Verb Phrases
  1. dispense with,

    • to do without; forgo: to dispense with preliminaries.

    • to do away with; rid of.

    • to grant exemption from a law or promise.

Origin of dispense

1275–1325; Middle English dispensen<Medieval Latin dispēnsāre to pardon, exempt, Latin: to pay out, distribute, equivalent to dis-dis-1 + pēnsāre, frequentative of pendere to weigh

synonym study For dispense

1. See distribute.

Other words for dispense

Other words from dispense

  • un·dis·pensed, adjective

Words Nearby dispense

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use dispense in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dispense


/ (dɪˈspɛns) /

  1. (tr) to give out or issue in portions

  2. (tr) to prepare and distribute (medicine), esp on prescription

  1. (tr) to administer (the law, etc)

  2. (intr foll by with) to do away (with) or manage (without)

  3. to grant a dispensation to (someone) from (some obligation of church law)

  4. to exempt or excuse from a rule or obligation

Origin of dispense

C14: from Medieval Latin dispensāre to pardon, from Latin dispendere to weigh out, from dis- 1 + pendere to weigh

usage For dispense

Dispense with is sometimes wrongly used where dispose of is meant: this task can be disposed of (not dispensed with) quickly and easily

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