verb dis·pense \ di-ˈspen(t)s \
|Updated on: 7 Jul 2018

Definition of dispense

dispensed; dispensing
1 a : 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 2a) to : exempt
  • may dispense students from this requirement
3 : to prepare and distribute (medication)
  • dispensing pills to their patients
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

Examples of dispense in a Sentence

  1. The ATM only dispenses bills.

  2. a newspaper columnist who dispenses advice to millions of readers each week

  3. Pharmacists are certified to dispense medication.

Recent Examples of dispense from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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

Synonym Discussion of 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

DISPENSE Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of dispense for English Language Learners

  • : to give or provide (something)

  • : to prepare and give (medicine)

DISPENSE Defined for Kids


verb dis·pense \ di-ˈspens \

Definition of dispense for Students

dispensed; dispensing
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.

Medical Dictionary


transitive verb dis·pense \ dis-ˈpen(t)s \

medical Definition of dispense

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

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to beat or defeat soundly

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