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dis·​patch di-ˈspach How to pronounce dispatch (audio)
dispatched; dispatching; dispatches

transitive verb

: to send off or away with promptness or speed
dispatch a letter
dispatch an ambulance to the scene
especially : to send off on official business
dispatch a messenger
: to kill with quick efficiency
dispatched the deer with one shot
obsolete : deprive
: to dispose of (something, such as a task) rapidly or efficiently
anxious to dispatch the matter
… household business could not be dispatched hastily by Mrs. Tulliver.George Eliot
: defeat sense 1
easily dispatching each team they played

intransitive verb

archaic : to make haste : hurry
dispatcher noun


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: a message sent with speed
especially : an important official message sent by a diplomatic, military, or naval officer
sent a dispatch to headquarters
: a news item filed (see file entry 4 sense 2b) by a correspondent
dispatches from the war zone
: the act of dispatching: such as
obsolete : dismissal
: the act of killing
: prompt settlement (as of an item of business)
Tom Pinch and his sister having to part, for the dispatch of the morning's business …, had no opportunity of discussing the subject at that time.Charles Dickens
: quick riddance
: a sending off : shipment
the immediate dispatch of supplies to the front
: promptness and efficiency in performance or transmission
done with dispatch
Choose the Right Synonym for dispatch


kill, slay, murder, assassinate, dispatch, execute mean to deprive of life.

kill merely states the fact of death caused by an agency in any manner.

killed in an accident
frost killed the plants

slay is a chiefly literary term implying deliberateness and violence but not necessarily motive.

slew thousands of the Philistines

murder specifically implies stealth and motive and premeditation and therefore full moral responsibility.

convicted of murdering a rival

assassinate applies to deliberate killing openly or secretly often for political motives.

terrorists assassinated the Senator

dispatch stresses quickness and directness in putting to death.

dispatched the sentry with one bullet

execute stresses putting to death as a legal penalty.

executed by lethal gas


haste, hurry, speed, expedition, dispatch mean quickness in movement or action.

haste applies to personal action and implies urgency and precipitancy and often rashness.

marry in haste

hurry often has a strong suggestion of agitated bustle or confusion.

in the hurry of departure she forgot her toothbrush

speed suggests swift efficiency in movement or action.

exercises to increase your reading speed

expedition and dispatch both imply speed and efficiency in handling affairs but expedition stresses ease or efficiency of performance and dispatch stresses promptness in concluding matters.

the case came to trial with expedition
paid bills with dispatch

Examples of dispatch in a Sentence

Verb Rescue workers were immediately dispatched to the area. The hotel dispatched a limo to pick us up from the airport. He dispatched the guard with one bullet. Noun The general sent a dispatch to headquarters. He requested the immediate dispatch of supplies. The reporter sent many dispatches from the war zone. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell’s office is reviewing how the initial call to police was prioritized and dispatched, the city’s director of communications, Jamie Housen, said in an email. Kimmy Yam, NBC News, 19 Sep. 2023 West precinct officers were dispatched before 9 p.m. to a person shot call in the 1900 block of 13th Way S.W., which is just off Mayfield Avenue. Carol Robinson | Crobinson@al.com, al, 19 Sep. 2023 Lake County sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the crash about a quarter-mile north of Lake Cook Road, at approximately 10:10 a.m. on Tuesday. Chloe Hilles, Chicago Tribune, 19 Sep. 2023 Project NextGen, a five-billion-dollar Biden Administration initiative modelled on Operation Warp Speed, is intended to accelerate advances in vaccine technology, and last month the program dispatched its first round of funding. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 17 Sep. 2023 Mutual-aid events are beneficial in cases of a municipality having to dispatch crews to help another utility restore power after an emergency or severe-weather situation, according to Municipal Electric Systems. Mike Jones, Arkansas Online, 15 Sep. 2023 Disturbance: Royalton Road On Aug. 9, police were dispatched to GetGo regarding a disturbance between two employees at the Royalton Road store. John Benson, cleveland, 13 Sep. 2023 After they’re dispatched from Charm City, the telescope’s marching orders are transmitted via one of the radio antennas in the Deep Space Network, which are located in Goldstone, California; Madrid; and Canberra, Australia. Christine Condon, Baltimore Sun, 13 Sep. 2023 To the frustration of many Republicans, the Chinese government has yet to reciprocate by dispatching any of its top officials for talks in Washington. Abigail Hauslohner, Washington Post, 13 Sep. 2023
Previously, Pena-Romero was also an employee at the Arkansas dispatch center but was suspended after his Aug. 7 arrest for allegedly raping and assaulting Cassandra. Christina Coulter, Fox News, 19 Sep. 2023 In 1965, China did dispatch troops to help North Vietnam fight the United States (with troop levels peaking in 1967), but its support for Hanoi began in 1950, far predating China’s domestic unrest. M. Taylor Fravel, Foreign Affairs, 15 Sep. 2023 The caller provided the dispatch with a license plate, which came back to a Parma address. John Benson, cleveland, 13 Sep. 2023 The police representative will assess the situation over the phone and dispatch fire department personnel if necessary. Alex Hulvalchick, Chicago Tribune, 11 Sep. 2023 The officer had dispatch run Mackey's name through the National Crime Information Center database and learned Mackey had two warrants for failure to appear, according to the affidavit. Nwa Democrat-Gazette, Arkansas Online, 14 Sep. 2023 Gallatin County Sherriff Search and Rescue officials said the Madison County dispatch received a call from a hunting party around 1:50 p.m. Friday after one of their hunters was attacked by a grizzly bear near Yellow Mule Trail, about 50 miles southwest of Bozeman, Montana. Zoe Wells, USA TODAY, 11 Sep. 2023 First, a short dispatch from listener and travel writer Diane Covington-Carter about another place steeped in mythology. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, 7 Sep. 2023 Though mobile crisis unit dispatch is an option, FirstLink prefers to deescalate crises over the phone, said Dallas Tufty, one of FirstLink's operators. Christina Saint Louis, CBS News, 31 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dispatch.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Verb and Noun

Spanish despachar or Italian dispacciare, from Occitan despachar to get rid of, from Middle French despechier to set free, from Old French, from des- dis- + -pechier (as in enpechier to ensnare) — more at impeach

First Known Use


1517, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1537, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of dispatch was in 1517

Dictionary Entries Near dispatch

Cite this Entry

“Dispatch.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dispatch. Accessed 28 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
dis·​patch dis-ˈpach How to pronounce dispatch (audio)
: to send away quickly to a particular place or for a particular purpose
dispatch a messenger
dispatch a train
: to put to death : kill
: to get done speedily
dispatcher noun


2 of 2 noun
: message sense 1
especially : an important official message
: a news story sent in to a newspaper
: the sending of a message or messenger
: the act of killing
: the shipment of goods
: promptness in performing a task
did our homework with dispatch

More from Merriam-Webster on dispatch

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