noun (1)
\ ˈdōl How to pronounce dole (audio) \

Definition of dole

 (Entry 1 of 5)

1a(1) : a grant of government funds to the unemployed had been on the dole for a year
(2) : a giving or distribution of food, money, or clothing to the needy
b : something distributed at intervals to the needy also : handout sense 1
c : something portioned out bit by bit
2 archaic : one's allotted share, portion, or destiny


doled; doling

Definition of dole (Entry 2 of 5)

transitive verb

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


noun (2)

Definition of dole (Entry 3 of 5)



biographical name (1)
\ ˈdōl How to pronounce Dole (audio) \

Definition of Dole (Entry 4 of 5)

Bob 1923–     Robert Joseph Dole American politician


biographical name (2)

Definition of Dole (Entry 5 of 5)

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

Synonyms for dole

Synonyms: Noun (1)

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

First Known Use of dole

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

History and Etymology for dole

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dole

Time Traveler for dole

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for dole

Cite this Entry

“Dole.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dole


\ ˈdōl How to pronounce dole (audio) \

Kids Definition of dole

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an act of giving out food, clothing, or money to the needy
2 : something given out to the needy especially at regular times


doled; doling

Kids Definition of dole (Entry 2 of 2)

: to give out Food was doled out to the poor.

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on dole

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dole

Nglish: Translation of dole for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about dole

Comments on dole

What made you want to look up dole? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Name that Thing: Flower Edition

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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