See more synonyms for dole on
  1. a portion or allotment of money, food, etc., especially as given at regular intervals by a charity or for maintenance.
  2. a dealing out or distributing, especially in charity.
  3. a form of payment to the unemployed instituted by the British government in 1918.
  4. any similar payment by a government to an unemployed person.
  5. Archaic. one's fate or destiny.
verb (used with object), doled, dol·ing.
  1. to distribute in charity.
  2. to give out sparingly or in small quantities (usually followed by out): The last of the water was doled out to the thirsty crew.
  1. 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

See more synonyms for on Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for doling

Contemporary Examples of doling

Historical Examples of doling

  • Paris was doling out the daily food of its two million inhabitants.

  • The stranger was doling out bill after bill from his thin roll.

  • She becomes miserly only when doling out the organs and instruments of labour.

    The Life of the Bee

    Maurice Maeterlinck

  • "It begins with a Nem," he said, doling them out parsimoniously.


    H. G. Wells

  • You've been doling it out to me in little morsels, and I've been aching to get it all at one bite.

    The Price

    Francis Lynde

British Dictionary definitions for doling


  1. a small portion or share, as of money or food, given to a poor person
  2. the act of giving or distributing such portions
  3. the dole British informal money received from the state while out of work
  4. on the dole British informal receiving such money
  5. archaic fate
  1. (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


  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 doling



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