dis·​pen·​sa·​tion | \ˌdis-pən-ˈsā-shən, -ˌpen-\

Definition of dispensation 

1a : a general state or ordering of things specifically : a system of revealed (see reveal entry 1 sense 1) commands and promises regulating human affairs a privilege maintained under the new dispensation

b : a particular arrangement or provision especially of providence or nature involving special dispensation by the Church

2a : an exemption from a law or from an impediment, vow, or oath may be granted a dispensation from the rule

b : a formal authorization requested a dispensation to form another lodge

3a : the act of dispensing the dispensation of medication

b : something dispensed or distributed … one of the most remarkable cultural dispensations in the country's history, the paperback book.— T. E. Cooney

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Other Words from dispensation

dispensational \ -​shnəl , -​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective

Examples of dispensation in a Sentence

The priest asked for dispensation from his vows. The state gave the town a special dispensation, allowing it to ignore the law in this case.

Recent Examples on the Web

In the case of the Republicans, there was a lot of drama, and some Never Trump people ended up leaving the party, but most Republican leaders stayed around and made their peace with the new dispensation. Jeet Heer, The New Republic, "The Democratic Party is on an identity quest.," 6 July 2018 Polk got special dispensation from Amazon to use the Echo’s industrial design. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Polk Command Bar review: As seen near TV," 3 July 2018 It is understood that the stadium build is making good progress, however deadlines are tight - which has led to Spurs receiving this special dispensation for their first few home games. SI.com, "Tottenham to Start 2018/19 Season at Wembley Amid Fears That New Stadium Will Not Be Ready in Time," 13 June 2018 The winners in this new dispensation feel their privilege has been earned, rendering them self-satisfied and unresponsive. Jennifer Szalai, New York Times, "The Cry of the Centrist: In ‘Tailspin,’ Steven Brill Bemoans a Polarized America," 5 June 2018 Hours later, reporters learned of the drinking, work environment, and medication dispensation allegations. Alex Ward, Vox, "Ronny Jackson, Trump’s Veterans Affairs nominee, is facing serious allegations," 24 Apr. 2018 But their friendship did not give Webb special dispensation from the typical veteran-rookie ribbing last season. Ben Baskin, SI.com, "Davis Webb Will Be Ready When It’s Time to Step Out of Eli Manning’s Shadow," 6 June 2018 Many began to view him as a father figure, hanging onto his every dispensation and admonition. Aaron Gilbreath, Longreads, "We Are Scientists," 5 June 2018 Instead, Cruz is exulting in substance, going out of his way to praise D'Souza's rhetoric on the merits as worthy of special dispensation. Jay Willis, GQ, "Ted Cruz Somehow Finds Way to Use Dinesh D’Souza’s Pardon to Embarrass Himself," 31 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dispensation.' 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 dispensation

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

History and Etymology for dispensation

see dispense

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Time Traveler for dispensation

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

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English Language Learners Definition of dispensation

: permission to break a law or an official promise you have made : release from a rule, vow, or oath

: an act of providing something to people


dis·​pen·​sa·​tion | \ˌdis-pən-ˈsā-shən, -ˌpen- \

Medical Definition of dispensation 

: the act of dispensing the dispensation of medicines

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Comments on dispensation

What made you want to look up dispensation? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


noxious or harmful

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