1 of 3

noun (1)

: a grant of government funds to the unemployed
had been on the dole for a year
: a giving or distribution of food, money, or clothing to the needy
: something distributed at intervals to the needy
: something portioned out bit by bit
archaic : one's allotted share, portion, or destiny


2 of 3


doled; doling

transitive verb

: to give or distribute as a charity
usually used with out
dole out food to needy families


3 of 3

noun (2)


Examples of dole in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
Republicans used Democrats’ moral rectitude as a ruse for accomplishing their longstanding goal of pushing the poor off of the government dole. Bryce Covert, The New Republic, 20 Aug. 2021 Too many American workers have become layabouts living off the government dole. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 11 May 2021 The author of that piece criticized the Social Security Administration for not updating a listing of jobs that benefit applicants might be able to do instead of going on the government dole collecting disability benefits. Tom Margenau, Dallas News, 29 Jan. 2023 As recently as 2017, a dole of about 100 baby loggerhead turtles emerged from their eggs and began their journey from the sand to the sea on Assateague Island National Seashore. Kristian Jaime, Baltimore Sun, 25 July 2022 As with other American officials feted in Azerbaijan on the regime’s dole, Cuellar routinely stumped for Azeri oil interests—helping the regime profit that much further. Casey Michel, The New Republic, 26 Jan. 2022 Old Republic utilizes a two-part dividend system that sees the insurer pay out a regular dole, as well as annual special payouts based on its profits for the year. Brett Owens, Forbes, 31 Oct. 2021 Under Aquino, the government expanded a program that provides cash dole-outs to the poor in exchange for commitments by parents to ensure their children would attend classes and receive government health care. NBC News, 24 June 2021 Furthermore, many arguments for repealing the $600 boost retread the old stereotype of a jobless worker on the government dole. CNN, 8 July 2020
During the recent work stoppages, MPTF received north of 13,000 incoming calls and doled more than $8 million in assistance. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 Jan. 2024 On visits home, Harris stuffs bags full of herbs from her garden, doling them out to staff members and military aides on Air Force Two on the five-hour ride back to Washington. Courtney Subramanian, Los Angeles Times, 7 Jan. 2024 Critics say the city’s pension system, which is facing more than $3 billion in debt, should invest the bonus money to help reduce that debt instead of doling it out to eligible retirees. David Garrick, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Dec. 2023 In past years, when news breaks of luxury gift bags being doled as freebies, headlines inevitably surface about the tax liabilities incurred by recipients. Chris Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, 22 Dec. 2023 The challenge for this incarnation of the 1975 musical, wrapping up a week-long pre-Broadway tryout at the National, is to make all that exuberance work more effectively by doling it out more sparingly. Peter Marks, Washington Post, 26 Oct. 2023 But his embracing of a literal interpretation of the text, attributions and all, as well as doling this out in a single brief portion instead of part of an anthology, keeps things not just short but sharp. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 28 Sep. 2023 Try sending your bestie an inspiring Bible verse or dole a compliment. Dominique Fluker, Essence, 18 Sep. 2023 The sum of money, most likely doled This article is part of our premium archives. Hilary Matfess, Foreign Affairs, 17 Aug. 2016 See More

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

Word History


Noun (1) and Verb

Middle English, from Old English dāl portion — more at deal entry 3

Noun (2)

Middle English dol, from Anglo-French duel, dol, from Late Latin dolus, alteration of Latin dolor — see dolor

First Known Use

Noun (1)

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2


15th century, in the meaning defined above

Noun (2)

13th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of dole was before the 12th century

Dictionary Entries Near dole

Cite this Entry

“Dole.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
: a giving out of food, money, or clothing to the needy
: something given out as charity


2 of 2 verb
doled; doling
: to give out as charity
: to give or deliver in small portions : parcel
usually used with out

Biographical Definition

Dole 1 of 2

biographical name (1)

Bob 1923–2021 Robert Joseph Dole American politician


2 of 2

biographical name (2)

Sanford Ballard 1844–1926 American jurist; president (1894–1900) and governor (1900–03) of Hawaii

More from Merriam-Webster on dole

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