verb (used with object), doled, dol·ing.

to distribute in charity.
to give out sparingly or in small quantities (usually followed by out): The last of the water was doled out to the thirsty crew.


    on the dole, receiving payment from the government, as relief: They couldn't afford any luxuries while living on the dole.

Origin of dole

before 1000; Middle English dol, Old English gedāl sharing; cf. deal1

Synonyms for dole



noun Archaic.

grief or sorrow; lamentation.

Origin of dole

1200–50; Middle English do(e)l < Anglo-French, Old French < Late Latin dolus, for Latin dolor dolor




Robert J(oseph),born 1923, U.S. politician: senator 1969–96.
Sanford Ballard,1844–1926, U.S. politician and jurist in Hawaii: president of Republic of Hawaii 1894–98; first territorial governor 1900–03. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dole

Contemporary Examples of dole

Historical Examples of dole

  • The other bade them measure out the supplies, "Pray, dole them out."



  • Do not dole out money to your wife as though she were a beggar.

    The Wedding Ring

    T. De Witt Talmage

  • But he fished out a dole, though he was vexed at the injury to the supper.

    The Tragic Muse

    Henry James

  • Nothing can pacify him but Mrs. Allen's notice and a dole from her hand.

    Our Village

    Mary Russell Mitford

  • Dole sunlight into his room by degrees; and when he can bear it, drench him with it.

    A Simpleton

    Charles Reade

British Dictionary definitions for dole




a small portion or share, as of money or food, given to a poor person
the act of giving or distributing such portions
the dole British informal money received from the state while out of work
on the dole British informal receiving such money
archaic fate


(tr usually foll by out) to distribute, esp in small portions

Word Origin for dole

Old English dāl share; related to Old Saxon dēl, Old Norse deild, Gothic dails, Old High German teil; see deal 1




archaic grief or mourning

Word Origin for dole

C13: from Old French, from Late Latin dolus, from Latin dolēre to lament
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 dole

Old English dal "state of being divided; sharing, giving out," shortened from gedal "portion," related to dæl "deal," from Proto-Germanic *dailiz (cf. Old Frisian and Old Saxon del, Middle Dutch deil, Dutch deel, Old High German teil, German Teil). On the dole is 1920s.


"hand out charity," mid-15c., from dole (n.). Related: Doled; doling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper