Pronunciation Verb

dispense (dispenses, present participle dispensing; past and past participle dispensed)

  1. To issue, distribute, or give out.
    • 1815 February 23, [Walter Scott], Guy Mannering; or, The Astrologer. [...] In Three Volumes, volume (please specify ), Edinburgh: Printed by James Ballantyne and Co. for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, […]; and Archibald Constable and Co., […], OCLC 742335644 ↗:
    • 1955, William Golding, The Inheritors, Faber and Faber 2005, p.40:
      The smoky spray seemed to trap whatever light there was and to dispense it subtly.
  2. To apply, as laws to particular cases; to administer; to execute; to manage; to direct.
    to dispense justice
    • While you dispense the laws, and guide the state.
  3. To supply or make up a medicine or prescription.
    The pharmacist dispensed my tablets.
    An optician can dispense spectacles.
  4. (obsolete) To give a dispensation to (someone); to excuse.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 34, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes, […], book II, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount […], OCLC 946730821 ↗:
      After his victories, he often gave them the reines to all licenciousnesse, for a while dispencing them from all rules of military discipline […].
    • 18, Thomas Babington Macaulay, chapter 11, in The History of England from the Accession of James the Second, volume (please specify ), London: Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans, OCLC 1069526323 ↗:
    • He appeared to think himself born to be supported by others, and dispensed from all necessity of providing for himself.
  5. (intransitive, obsolete) To compensate; to make up; to make amends.
    • One loving hour / For many years of sorrow can dispense.
    • His sin was dispensed / With gold, whereof it was compensed.
Translations Translations Noun


  1. (obsolete) Cost, expenditure.
  2. (obsolete) The act of dispensing, dispensation.
    • 1590, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Qveene. […], London: Printed [by John Wolfe] for VVilliam Ponsonbie, OCLC 960102938 ↗, book II, canto XII:
      {...}} what euer in this worldly state / Is sweet, and pleasing vnto liuing sense, / Or that may dayntiest fantasie aggrate, / Was poured forth with plentifull dispence {{...}
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