Definition of dispense in English:

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Pronunciation: /dəˈspens/


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


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.


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

Words that rhyme with dispense

cense, commence, common sense, condense, dense, expense, fence, hence, Hortense, immense, offence (US offense), pence, prepense, pretence (US pretense), sense, spence, suspense, tense, thence, whence

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: dis·pense

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