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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


2 of 2


: 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.
Recent Examples on the Web
Poudre Fire Authority firefighters were dispatched to the area in northeast Fort Collins for what turned out to be a three-hour rescue. Ignacio Calderon, USA TODAY, 11 July 2024 Officers were dispatched to Hartford Hospital on a report of a stabbing victim arriving for treatment around 6:06 p.m., according to the Hartford Police Department. Staff Report, Hartford Courant, 11 July 2024
Yellowstone's 911 dispatch center received a call just after midnight on the Fourth of July reporting that a woman had been held against her will by an armed man in a residence at the popular Canyon Village area, which offers lodges, cabins, and camping, according to the National Park Service. Thao Nguyen, USA TODAY, 11 July 2024 As the chief told it, the city’s police dispatch center got a call two minutes before noon on Tuesday, reporting that someone with a gun was breaking into the bedroom window of a house in the 2800 block of Sudberry. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 10 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for dispatch 

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 21 Jul. 2024.

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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