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 One example is Kit Check, a company that sells software called Bluesight for Controlled Substances, which uses a machine-learning algorithm the company claims can identify risky prescription and dispensation patterns among healthcare staff. Justin Rohrlich, Quartz, "Can technology fix the silent opioid crisis gripping US hospitals?," 19 Nov. 2019 Reasons for medical exemptions must still follow strict guidelines, and doctors will now be barred from charging any fees for exams or forms related to such dispensation. Elizabeth Aguilera, The Mercury News, "Five things to know about California’s new vaccine law," 16 Sep. 2019 In 2010, Congress reinstituted the fund, this time with dispensation for volunteers and for New Yorkers who lived, worked, and went to school in Lower Manhattan. Caroline Lester, The New Yorker, "The Continuing Legacy of 9/11," 11 Sep. 2019 Under the new dispensation ethnic elites have revived their demands for more autonomy. The Economist, "Ethnic separatists are challenging Ethiopia’s unity," 25 July 2019 To not probate the estate and not pay the taxes shouldn’t be a reason for special dispensation. Lizzie Presser, ProPublica, "The Reels Brothers Spent Eight Years in Jail for Refusing to Leave It.," 15 July 2019 Under the current political dispensation more land has been opened to development, more environment-protecting regulations relaxed, more funds cut. Gena Steffens, Smithsonian, "The Snakes That Ate Florida," 11 July 2019 Liberals say democracy is rigged when corporations receive tax dispensations. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Lyft and the Left," 19 Feb. 2019 This dispensation helps drive the trade winds westward the better to feed the monsoon as the intertropical convergence zone sweeps north over India. The Economist, "The South Asian monsoon, past, present and future," 27 June 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dispensation

Last Updated

6 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Dispensation.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dispensation. Accessed 7 December 2019.

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More Definitions for dispensation


How to pronounce dispensation (audio)

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

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