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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Then, twist the end of the bag closed and squeeze to dispense the icing. Tribune News Service, cleveland, "Ring in 2021 with a European flair," 29 Dec. 2020 Richard Stone, executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, said the VA had ordered 122,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine ahead of its approval and prepared 200 sites to dispense it. al, "2 Alabama VA hospitals administering Moderna COVID vaccine," 22 Dec. 2020 No one seems eager to dispense gifts in the form of unexpected losses. Childs Walker, baltimoresun.com, "Five Things We Learned from the Ravens’ 40-14 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars," 21 Dec. 2020 To use it, simply twist the pen at the bottom to dispense the specialized cleansing solution through its brush. Arielle Tschinkel, USA TODAY, "This jewelry cleaner is the perfect stocking stuffer—and it's on sale for less than $10," 17 Dec. 2020 First, to dispense with the pro-Trump conspiracy theories predictably choking the Internet: No, there was no deep state plot to boost Biden by withholding potentially explosive information during campaign season. Arkansas Online, "OPINION | OTHERS SAY: Joe Biden's turn," 14 Dec. 2020 Having removed its tray of vaccines from an ultracold freezer on Monday, the hospital had five days to dispense the doses before they were rendered unusable. Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, "As U.K. Begins Vaccinations, a Glimpse of Life After Covid," 8 Dec. 2020 Squads of health workers in white protective suits dispense sanitizing hand gel along the busy corridors. Lissette Romero, Star Tribune, "Amid virus surge, life goes on at Mexico City's main market," 8 Dec. 2020 Before discussing their responses, though, let’s dispense with a couple of counterarguments made by Trump supporters. Washington Post, "Republicans and others offer tips on how to rebut millions of ‘election deniers’," 23 Nov. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for dispense

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dispense

Last Updated

12 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dispense.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dispense. Accessed 16 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for dispense


How to pronounce dispense (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of dispense

: to give or provide (something)
: to prepare and give (medicine)


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.
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)

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