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Syllabification: dis·pense
Pronunciation: /dəˈspens

Definition of dispense in English:


1 [with object] Distribute or provide (a service or information) to a number of people: he dispensed a gentle pat on Claude’s back
More example sentences
  • It's their job to dispense information effectively and accurately.
  • So they use the public sector not to provide services but to dispense patronage; they use trade protection to distribute favours.
  • Another thing, the purpose of this column is not to dispense medical information.
distribute, pass around, hand out, dole out, dish out, share out;
allocate, supply, allot, apportion
1.1(Of a machine) supply (a product or cash): the machines dispense a range of drinks and snacks
More example sentences
  • Based on iris recognition technology, the machines will dispense cash, cinema tickets and postage stamps, and the company intends offering further applications including on-line shopping and bill payment.
  • The screen of the cash dispenser displays the ironic message, ‘We apologise for the inconvenience, but this machine does not dispense cash at the moment.’
  • Banks estimate that only 85% of ATM machines will be dispensing cash by the end of January 1.
prepare, make up;
supply, provide, sell
1.2(Of a pharmacist) make up and give out (medicine) according to a doctor’s prescription.
Example sentences
  • There is still the image that chemists simply dispense medicine after a visit to the doctor.
  • Saudi chemists dispense medicine only in packets.
  • But there are also huge savings available from legitimate Canadian pharmacies dispensing quality medicines.
2 [no object] (dispense with) Manage without; get rid of: let’s dispense with the formalities, shall we?
More example sentences
  • When Alf came to manage England, he dispensed with the winger altogether and built his wingless wonders.
  • I am now recovering well and have managed to dispense with my crutches.
  • For fans, the big clear-out is always an emotional attic - much-loved souvenirs and total junk are dispensed with simultaneously.
waive, omit, drop, leave out, forgo;
do away with, give something a miss
get rid of, throw away/out, dispose of, discard;
manage without, cope without
informal ditch, scrap, dump, deep-six, chuck
2.1Give special exemption from (a law or rule): the secretary of state was empowered to dispense with the nationality requirement in individual cases
More example sentences
  • If wrong about that, Mr Bowen submits that if the claim form must be treated as served on 7 November, an order should be made under CPR Rule 6.9 dispensing with service of the claim form completely.
  • And rules can be dispensed with in the Court's inherent power if the interests of justice require.
  • We will dispense with the rule relating to time for bringing the application but refuse special leave.
2.2 [with object] Grant (someone) an exemption from a religious obligation: the pope personally nominated him as bishop, dispensing him from his impediment
More example sentences
  • Diocesan bishops can dispense men from the obligations that go with the diaconate and suspend priests from the exercise of their order for a long or short period, but only the bishop of Rome can expel them from the priesthood.
  • The designated cardinal however can petition the pope to dispense him from this requirement.
  • Leo X gave as the reason for dispensing him from some of the requirements of canon law the expectation that as a native bishop he would be more effective in promoting the faith among his people.
exempt, excuse, except, release, let off, reprieve, absolve


late Middle English: via Old French from Latin dispensare 'continue to weigh out or disburse', from the verb dispendere, based on pendere 'weigh'.


dispense with someone's services

Dismiss someone from a job.
Example sentences
  • Eames was sacked late on Wednesday night after a disciplinary hearing found him guilty of gross misconduct, concluding he deliberately misled three employees when dispensing with their services.
  • When Kenneth Williams, 58, returned to his Horsforth home from holiday last summer to find a letter from his employer dispensing with his services, he thought his working life was over.
  • But if she isn't, her once supportive German bosses will not waste any time in dispensing with her services.

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