dispense

verb

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

transitive verb

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 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
Phrases
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 Doctors are asked to give free medical advice, lawyers to dispense legal counsel and performers to perform. Jacobina Martin, Washington Post, 10 Feb. 2024 Options for aromatherapy include small wells where scented oils, such as soothing eucalyptus, can be dispensed along with the steam. Michael J. Solender - Correspondent, Charlotte Observer, 31 Jan. 2024 The report found the unit dispensed Ambien without verifying patients' identities and purchased brand-name Ambien, which costs 174 times more than the generic brand. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, 29 Jan. 2024 Courts have used the Chevron doctrine to dispense with thousands of cases on everything from hospital pricing to Social Security benefits, the government said, and overturning Chevron could throw that into question. Tribune News Service, Hartford Courant, 17 Jan. 2024 Berkeley, like Marin, places an emphasis on dispensing health and housing services in an equitable, rather than an equal, way to those in need. Richard Halstead, The Mercury News, 9 Jan. 2024 Plus, the gel is dispensed through a no-touch applicator to avoid mess, and it's approved for use on children over two years old. Sherri Gordon, Verywell Health, 30 Jan. 2024 He’s been dispensing design advice to people who desperately need his help since Season 1, performing complete life transformations alongside his costars, Tan France, Antoni Porowski, Karamo Brown and Jonathan Van Ness, who will continue with the show. Esme Mazzeo, Peoplemag, 23 Jan. 2024 Brown also dispensed expert tips on what shoppers need to look for when choosing a steam mop for their house. Nor'adila Hepburn, Southern Living, 18 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dispense.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near dispense

Cite this Entry

“Dispense.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dispense. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

dispense

verb
dis·​pense dis-ˈpen(t)s How to pronounce dispense (audio)
dispensed; dispensing
1
a
: to give out in shares
dispense charity
b
: to give out as deserved
dispense justice
2
: to prepare and give out (medicines)

Medical Definition

dispense

transitive verb
dis·​pense dis-ˈpen(t)s How to pronounce dispense (audio)
dispensed; dispensing
1
: to put up (a prescription or medicine)
2
: to prepare and distribute (medication)

More from Merriam-Webster on dispense

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