dis·​charge | \dis-ˈchärj, ˈdis-ˌ\

Definition of discharge 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to relieve of a charge, load, or burden:

a : unload discharge a cargo ship

b : to release from an obligation will be discharged from further payment

c electrical engineering : to release electrical energy from (something, such as a battery or capacitor) by a discharge (see discharge entry 2 sense 9b) discharging electricity from a battery

2a : to let or put off discharge passengers discharge cargo

b : shoot discharge an arrow

c : to release from confinement, custody, or care discharge a prisoner discharge a patient

d : to give outlet or vent to : emit discharge emotions vehicles discharging exhaust fumes

3a(1) : to dismiss from employment had to discharge several employees last month

(2) : to release from service or duty discharge a soldier was discharged from the Navy

b : to get rid of (something, such as a debt or obligation) by performing an appropriate action (such as payment) failing to discharge their debts

c law : to set aside or dismiss : annul discharge a court order

d : to order (a legislative committee) to end consideration of a bill (see bill entry 4 sense 6) in order to bring it before the house (see house entry 1 sense 6a) for action

4 : to bear and distribute (something, such as the weight of a wall above an opening)

5 : to bleach out or remove (color or dye) in dyeing and printing textiles

6 : to cancel the record of the loan of (a library book) upon return

intransitive verb

1a : to throw off or deliver a load, charge, or burden

b : to release electrical energy by a discharge (see discharge entry 2 sense 9b) ensure that the electricity discharges safely

2a : go off, fire used of a gun His weapon discharged .

b : spread, run some dyes discharge

c : to pour forth fluid or other contents where the river discharges into the ocean


dis·​charge | \ˈdis-ˌchärj, dis-ˈ\

Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act of relieving of something that oppresses : release

b : something that discharges or releases especially : a certification of release or payment produced the discharge as evidence

2 : the state of being discharged or relieved

3 : the act of discharging or unloading her discharge from the hospital

4 law : release from confinement a record of prison discharges

5 : a firing off the discharge of a weapon

6a : a flowing or issuing out a discharge of spores a discharge of mucus also : a rate of flow controlling the discharge of water

b : something that is emitted a purulent discharge a clear discharge from the eyes and nose

7 law : the act of removing an obligation or liability (see liability sense 2) received a full discharge from his creditors

8a : release or dismissal especially from an office or employment suing for wrongful discharge

b : complete separation from military service her discharge from the Navy an honorable discharge

9a physics : the equalization of a difference of electric potential (see potential entry 2 sense 2c) between two points

b energy engineering : the conversion of the chemical energy of a battery into electrical energy

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Other Words from discharge


dischargeable \-​jə-​bəl \ adjective
dischargee \(ˌ)dis-​ˌchär-​ˈjē \ noun
discharger \dis-​ˈchär-​jər, ˈdis-​ˌ \ noun

Synonyms for discharge

Synonyms: Verb

blast, fire, loose, shoot, squeeze off

Synonyms: Noun

blasting, firing, shot

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Choose the Right Synonym for discharge


perform, execute, discharge, accomplish, achieve, effect, fulfill mean to carry out or into effect. perform implies action that follows established patterns or procedures or fulfills agreed-upon requirements and often connotes special skill. performed gymnastics execute stresses the carrying out of what exists in plan or in intent. executed the hit-and-run discharge implies execution and completion of appointed duties or tasks. discharged his duties accomplish stresses the successful completion of a process rather than the means of carrying it out. accomplished everything they set out to do achieve adds to accomplish the implication of conquered difficulties. achieve greatness effect adds to achieve an emphasis on the inherent force in the agent capable of surmounting obstacles. effected sweeping reforms fulfill implies a complete realization of ends or possibilities. fulfilled their ambitions

Examples of discharge in a Sentence


She's due to be discharged from the hospital on Wednesday. We had to discharge several employees last week. Thousands of soldiers were discharged after the war. The judge discharged the jury. The ship discharged missiles against enemy targets. The gun failed to discharge.


The doctors approved her discharge from the hospital. Several former employees are suing the company for wrongful discharge. After his discharge from the military, he went to college to become a teacher. The damage was caused by accidental discharge of a hunting rifle. a rapid discharge from a gun
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Ultimately, Stein was discharged without evidence of either fever or cancer, an apparent miracle that Coley thought might have something to do with the pus. David A. Shaywitz, WSJ, "‘The Breakthrough’ and ‘The Beautiful Cure’ Review: Spurring the Body to Fight Back," 13 Nov. 2018 Skripal was discharged from a U.K. hospital in May, following his daughter's April release. Matt Richardson, Fox News, "US to impose new Russia sanctions for 'chemical or biological weapons' use against British ex-spy," 2 Oct. 2018 Kelley had been discharged from the Air Force for assaulting his wife and child, and served 12 months' confinement following a 2012 court-martial. NBC News, "Autopsy confirms Sutherland Springs church gunman died by suicide," 1 July 2018 On June 18, four days before the attack, Smith was discharged from Summit Behavioral Health. Cameron Knight, Cincinnati.com, "Accused attacker of pregnant woman released from mental facility 4 days prior," 27 June 2018 Conner, a native of Kentucky, was discharged from the Army on June 22, 1945, shortly after Victory in Europe Day on May 8, according to an Army press release. Thomas Novelly, The Courier-Journal, "A remarkable hero: Trump to award WWII Kentucky soldier Medal of Honor," 26 June 2018 The bill was discharged from consideration in February by the Committee on the Judiciary. Jennifer Walter, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Parkland students rally in Wisconsin for gun laws as part of Road to Change tour," 22 June 2018 The extinguishers were discharged and later recovered. Staff Report, chicagotribune.com, "Police: Chicago man, two juveniles charged in Oak Park armed robbery," 15 June 2018 Half of concussion patients are discharged without being warned about possible follow-up symptoms, red flags and dangers. Steve Rubenstein, San Francisco Chronicle, "Concussion study by UCSF professor identifies ‘public health crisis’," 9 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Some of the kale, tomatoes and other produce is donated to food pantries and some is sold at a farmers market the hospital runs on Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.—the most popular interval for patient discharges. Lucette Lagnado, WSJ, "Take Two Aspirin—and a Serving of Kale," 22 Oct. 2018 The repairs are considered an essential step in allowing the lake to hold more water, which would reduce the need for discharges into the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee river estuaries to the east and west. Jim Turner, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Herbert Hoover Dike repairs get $514.2 million boost in federal funding," 6 July 2018 Sheriff Richard Schmidt filed paperwork for the discharge of Deputy Chad Haldemann on Friday as the result of several internal investigations. Elena Weissmann, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Milwaukee deputy faces possible termination after OWI, internal investigations," 29 June 2018 The group discussed Pollard's proposal for Cornerstone of Recovery, an addiction treatment center here, to admit a handful of endocarditis patients as soon as they were cleared for discharge. Abby Goodnough, Anchorage Daily News, "Injecting drugs can ruin a heart. How many second chances should a user get?," 30 Apr. 2018 The city continues to file occasional reports of sanitary sewer overflows from both the lagoon and sprayfield, with both a volume estimate and a start and end time for the discharges. Dennis Pillion, AL.com, "Sewage problems still plague Uniontown after $4.8 million in repairs," 20 Apr. 2018 This allowed us to formulate a simple guideline for discharge opioid prescribing that would satisfy at least 85 percent of patients’ home opioid needs. Richard J. Barth, STAT, "Trump wants to reduce opioid prescriptions by one-third. We can start now," 30 Mar. 2018 One said he was bothered that O'Dea still hasn't taken responsibility for the negligent discharge of his rifle and that O'Dea and his lawyer continue to describe it as an accident. Maxine Bernstein, OregonLive.com, "Panel: Former Police Chief Larry O'Dea's 'failure of leadership' didn't warrant yanking certification," 15 Feb. 2018 House leaders rarely lose control of the floor via a discharge petition campaign. Adam Shaw, Fox News, "Paul Ryan scrambles to calm GOP insurrection over immigration," 2 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'discharge.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of discharge


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for discharge


Middle English, from Anglo-French descharger, from Late Latin discarricare, from Latin dis- + Late Latin carricare to load — more at charge


see discharge entry 1

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Statistics for discharge

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for discharge

The first known use of discharge was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for discharge



English Language Learners Definition of discharge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to allow (someone) to leave a hospital, prison, etc.

: to take away the job of (someone) : to end the employment of (someone)

: to end the service of (someone) in a formal or official way : to release (someone) from duty



English Language Learners Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

: the release of someone from a hospital, prison, etc.

: the act of firing or dismissing someone from a job

: the act of ending a person's service to the military


dis·​charge | \dis-ˈchärj \
discharged; discharging

Kids Definition of discharge

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to allow to leave or get off The patient was discharged from the hospital.

2 : to dismiss from service discharge a worker

3 : to free of a load or burden : unload discharge a ship

4 : shoot entry 1 sense 2 discharge a gun

5 : to cause to shoot out of discharge a bullet

6 : to pour forth fluid or other contents The chimney discharged smoke.

7 : to get rid of by paying or doing discharge a debt He discharged his responsibilities.


dis·​charge | \ˈdis-ˌchärj \

Kids Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the release of someone from a place The doctor approved her discharge from the hospital.

2 : the release from a duty or debt

3 : a certificate of release or payment

4 : the act of firing a person from a job

5 : an end of a person's military service

6 : an act of firing off a gun's discharge

7 : something that flows out The discharge was coming from a pipe.


dis·​charge | \dis(h)-ˈchärj, ˈdis(h)-ˌ \
discharged; discharging

Medical Definition of discharge 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to release from confinement, custody, or care discharge a patient from the hospital

2a : to give outlet to or emit a boil discharging pus

b : to release or give expression to (a pent-up emotion or a repressed impulse) discharged his anxiety by working out with a punching bag

intransitive verb

: to pour forth fluid or other contents


dis·​charge | \ˈdis(h)-ˌchärj, dis(h)-ˈ \

Medical Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the act of relieving of something discharge of a repressed impulse

2 : release from confinement, custody, or care returned to work the day after discharge from the hospital

3 : something that is emitted or evacuated a purulent discharge from a wound a thick white vaginal discharge

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transitive verb
dis·​charge | \dis-ˈchärj, ˈdis-ˌchärj \

Legal Definition of discharge 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to release from an obligation: as

a : to relieve of a duty under an instrument (as a contract or a negotiable instrument) also : to render (an instrument) no longer enforceable a formal instrument…may be discharged by either cancellation or surrender — J. D. Calamari and J. M. Perillo

b : to release (a debtor in bankruptcy) from liability for his or her debts

2 : to release from confinement, custody, or care discharge a prisoner

3a : to dismiss from employment : terminate the employment of

b : to release from service or duty discharge a jury discharge a witness

4a : to get rid of (as a debt or obligation) by performing an appropriate action

b : to fulfill a requirement for evidence which is required to discharge the burden of going forward— W. R. LaFave and A. W. Scott, Jr.

5 : to order (a legislative committee) to end consideration of a bill in order to bring it before the house for action

Other Words from discharge

dischargeability \dis-​ˌchär-​jə-​ˈbi-​lə-​tē \ noun
dischargeable \dis-​ˈchär-​jə-​bəl \ adjective


dis·​charge | \ˈdis-ˌchärj \

Legal Definition of discharge (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the act of relieving of something that burdens or oppresses : release

b : something that discharges or releases especially : a certification of or a document proving release or payment

2 : the state of being discharged or released a party seeking a total discharge

3 : release from confinement ordering a conditional discharge of the alien on habeas corpusHarvard Law Review

4 : the act of removing an obligation or liability (as by payment of a debt or performance of a duty)

5a : a dismissal from employment or office

constructive discharge

: discharge of an employee effected by making the employee's working conditions so intolerable that he or she reasonably feels compelled to resign

retaliatory discharge

: a wrongful discharge that is done in retaliation for an employee's conduct (as reporting an employer's criminal activity) and that clearly violates public policy

wrongful discharge

: discharge of an employee for illegal reasons or for reasons that are contrary to public policy (as in retaliation for the employee's refusal to engage in unlawful activity)

b : a release from service or duty

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Comments on discharge

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