dispense

verb
dis·​pense | \ di-ˈspen(t)s How to pronounce dispense (audio) \
dispensed; dispensing

Definition of dispense

transitive verb

1a : to divide and share out according to a plan : to deal out in portions dispense food among the needy
b : administer dispense justice
2 : to exempt from a law or release from a vow, oath, or impediment : to give dispensation (see dispensation sense 2a) to : exempt may dispense students from this requirement
3 : to prepare and distribute (medication) dispensing pills to their patients

intransitive verb

archaic : to grant dispensation
dispense with
1 : to set aside : discard dispensing with the usual introduction
2 : to do without could dispense with such a large staff

Choose the Right Synonym for dispense

distribute, dispense, divide, deal, dole out mean to give out, usually in shares, to each member of a group. distribute implies an apportioning by separation of something into parts, units, or amounts. distributed food to the needy dispense suggests the giving of a carefully weighed or measured portion to each of a group according to due or need. dispensed wisdom to the students divide stresses the separation of a whole into parts and implies that the parts are equal. three charitable groups divided the proceeds deal emphasizes the allotment of something piece by piece. deal out equipment and supplies dole out implies a carefully measured portion of something that is often in short supply. doled out what little food there was

Examples of dispense in a Sentence

The ATM only dispenses $20 bills. a newspaper columnist who dispenses advice to millions of readers each week Pharmacists are certified to dispense medication.
Recent Examples on the Web The main railway station has evolved into an ad hoc welcome center where volunteers dispense provisions — sandwiches, bottled water, blankets — and words of instruction and reassurance to their war-weary compatriots. Martin Kuz, San Antonio Express-News, 26 Mar. 2022 Thursday's decision represented a dramatic scaling back of the Biden administration plan announced last month to dispense boosters to nearly everyone to shore up their protection. CBS News, 24 Sep. 2021 Thursday’s decision represented a dramatic scaling back of the Biden administration plan, announced last month, to dispense boosters to nearly everyone to shore up their protection. cleveland, 23 Sep. 2021 The Biden administration’s embattled plan to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to most Americans faced its first major hurdle Friday as a government advisory panel met to decide whether to endorse extra doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Matthew Perrone, chicagotribune.com, 17 Sep. 2021 Baker also on Wednesday addressed the news that the federal government plans to dispense COVID-19 booster shots to all Americans to shore up their protection amid the surging delta variant and evidence that the vaccines’ effectiveness is falling. BostonGlobe.com, 18 Aug. 2021 Avoiding that fate, the scientists conclude, means stranding trillions of dollars in plans and infrastructure too dangerous to continue operating, unless technology emerges to capture and dispense with their emissions. Eric Roston, Fortune, 4 Apr. 2022 An even faster way to dispense with testing might soon be available: The FDA has recently approved new tests that will deliver results at home in 30 minutes—eliminating the agonizing wait for a timely result. Barbara Peterson, WSJ, 24 Feb. 2021 Giacometti was part of a generation in Europe that was neither pessimistic nor optimistic but rather forced by dint of circumstance to dispense with illusions. Washington Post, 3 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dispense.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of dispense

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

History and Etymology for dispense

Middle English, from Medieval Latin & Latin; Medieval Latin dispensare to exempt, from Latin, to distribute, from dis- + pensare to weigh, frequentative of pendere to weigh, pay out — more at spin

Learn More About dispense

Time Traveler for dispense

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near dispense

dispensatory

dispense

dispenser

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for dispense

Last Updated

30 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Dispense.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dispense. Accessed 22 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for dispense

dispense

verb
dis·​pense | \ di-ˈspens How to pronounce dispense (audio) \
dispensed; dispensing

Kids Definition of dispense

1 : to give out in small amounts The machine dispenses candy.
2 : to give out as deserved The judge dispensed justice.
3 : to put up or prepare medicine in a form ready for use
dispense with
: to do or get along without Let's dispense with introductions.

dispense

transitive verb
dis·​pense | \ dis-ˈpen(t)s How to pronounce dispense (audio) \
dispensed; dispensing

Medical Definition of dispense

1 : to put up (a prescription or medicine)
2 : to prepare and distribute (medication)

More from Merriam-Webster on dispense

Nglish: Translation of dispense for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dispense for Arabic Speakers

WORD OF THE DAY

Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!