dis·​pen·​sa·​tion | \ ˌdi-spən-ˈsā-shən How to pronounce dispensation (audio) , -ˌspen-\

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 \ ˌdi-​spən-​ˈsā-​shnəl How to pronounce dispensational (audio) , -​ˌspen-​ , -​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

The dispensations are many—training or volunteering could count toward the 20 hours, and the bill includes money for education and training for anyone who wants to improve his job prospects. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The GOP’s Food-Stamp Failure," 9 Dec. 2018 The relationship of essayist to reader has long been that of equal to equal, adult to adult, no condescension exercised, no special dispensations asked. Joseph Epstein, WSJ, "‘Essayism’ Review: Tell Me a Bit (Less) About Yourself," 30 Nov. 2018 The measure excuses anyone caring for a young child or going to school, among other dispensations. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Making America Work Again," 3 Aug. 2018 The decision, in a unanimous vote here Sunday, came after two failed drug tests by Russian athletes — among nearly 170 competing here under a special dispensation — and after a long night of talks among senior I.O.C. officials. Tariq Panja, New York Times, "Russians Won’t Get to March Behind Their Flag at the Olympic Closing Ceremony," 24 Feb. 2018 States can waive the time limit with an Agriculture Department dispensation. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "The Food Stamp Farce," 22 Aug. 2018 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

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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Statistics for dispensation

Last Updated

23 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

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- How to pronounce dispensation (audio) \

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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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