Definition of dispense in English:



  • 1[with object] Distribute or provide (a service or information) to a number of people.

    ‘orderlies went round dispensing drinks’
    • ‘So all you guys out there listen up, I am going to dispense this information to you all, free of charge.’
    • ‘The gravel-voiced bar-owner Phil dispenses drink and advice in about equal measure and is like a father figure to her.’
    • ‘Another thing, the purpose of this column is not to dispense medical information.’
    • ‘We look to the media to dispense information to help us make our choices.’
    • ‘Urban police departments, which tended to be highly politicized and run by party bosses, were also frequently tools for dispensing social services and other forms of political patronage.’
    • ‘There is no central nursing station for gathering or dispensing information.’
    • ‘It's their job to dispense information effectively and accurately.’
    • ‘As they dispensed care and advice to them, they realized a much larger audience could benefit from their advice if they put it in writing.’
    • ‘Partly, I suspect, this is because many health campaigners dispense factual information devoid of social context.’
    • ‘As we walk past snake after snake, Myers dispenses facts.’
    • ‘One of the biggest problems during that disaster was getting and dispensing accurate information, especially in Topanga's isolated canyon enclaves.’
    • ‘A mine of information, Johnston also dispenses the type of wisdom not necessarily included in the book.’
    • ‘Mrs Canas said there was no one organisation to take responsibility for dispensing information and professionals assumed people already knew things.’
    • ‘Yet, she dispenses advice about marriage and childraising with no second thoughts.’
    • ‘The 5 p.m. embargo gives the Pentagon plenty of time to dispense the information to Capitol Hill and other agencies.’
    • ‘And the doctor must be familiar with the issues that are important to young people and know how to draw out information and dispense advice without sounding preachy.’
    • ‘University programs reported increased interest from potential candidates, providing an opportunity to dispense program information widely.’
    • ‘It also dispensed pastoral care to the white settlers.’
    • ‘Being educated to study the human body and being able to dispense care and get paid for it is a privilege, and the best doctors realize this.’
    • ‘So they use the public sector not to provide services but to dispense patronage; they use trade protection to distribute favours.’
    distribute, pass round, pass out, hand out, deal out, dole out, share out, divide out, parcel out, allocate, allot, apportion, assign, bestow, confer, supply, disburse
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    1. 1.1(of a machine or container) supply or release (a product or cash)
      ‘the machines dispense a range of drinks’
      ‘a dispensing machine’
      • ‘An antiquated water fountain and a battered Coke machine dispensed beverages on hot days.’
      • ‘Newry will be the first town in Northern Ireland to have a bank machine dispensing the new Euro banknotes when the currency comes into circulation in January 2002.’
      • ‘A pharmacist at a remote 24-hour location will pop up on a screen and consult with the patient before a machine dispenses the drugs.’
      • ‘Customers buy credit on a smartcard, which they swipe when they want to try a wine, and the machine dispenses it.’
      • ‘Up to 200 of the country's 2,250 ‘hole in the wall’ cash dispensing machines have run out of cash.’
      • ‘He suggested a ticket dispensing machine at the car park.’
      • ‘The automated teller machine that dispenses cash and other banking transactions has become ubiquitous in many parts of the world.’
      • ‘Ask about the availability of cash dispensing machines in the area you are visiting.’
      • ‘Look for ATM-like machines dispensing DVDs to pop up across the U.S. this year.’
      • ‘To suit varying demands, some machines have facilities to dispense a half-cup for customers who prefer to linger over a tea for a long time.’
      • ‘She contained a smile and walked over to the food dispensing machine.’
      • ‘Banks estimate that only 85% of ATM machines will be dispensing cash by the end of January 1.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘This machine can only dispense a maximum of £400.00.’
      • ‘Water and soap were dispensed from a machine incorporating a sink and resembling a coffee dispenser, which also had a hot air dryer.’
      • ‘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.’’
      • ‘Well, I've still never seen any on the Tube myself but on Saturday I saw my first ever umbrella dispensing machine at Windsor Central station.’
      • ‘After my money was dispensed from the machine, I grabbed the receipt and started walking off, when I noticed that the ATM had spat out a second piece of paper.’
      • ‘They enquired where was the machine that dispensed the parking discs.’
      • ‘There's a coin-operated machine that dispenses holy water, a battery, and a steam engine.’
      prepare, make up, mix
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    2. 1.2(of a chemist) make up and give out (medicine) according to a doctor's prescription.
      ‘he was stopped from dispensing prescriptions’
      • ‘This is different from our traditional role of training students to dispense medicines.’
      • ‘An angry pharmacist says Government moves to allow supermarket chains to provide dispensing services may destroy the community.’
      • ‘Will it be considered a pharmaceutical product that requires a prescription and will be dispensed by a pharmacy or will it be available directly to physicians via the laboratory?’
      • ‘Megan started work in the pharmacy, dispensing medicine and travelling with the mobile medical team as they visited outlying villages.’
      • ‘There is still the image that chemists simply dispense medicine after a visit to the doctor.’
      • ‘Electronic prescribing is common in America, with some internet chemists dispensing thousands of medicines an hour.’
      • ‘Doctors without licences would have to stop dispensing medicine from today, or run foul of the law.’
      • ‘My primary role is as a pharmacist dispensing prescriptions and selling medicines with advice and counselling but I am the manager of the staff that work here and do everything that's involved in running a business.’
      • ‘Relaxation of rules governing the opening of pharmacies could see supermarkets become a major force in dispensing medicines.’
      • ‘But there are also huge savings available from legitimate Canadian pharmacies dispensing quality medicines.’
      • ‘When the pharmacist dispenses your medicine, you have another opportunity to clarify information or to ask other questions.’
      • ‘Already, four states allow doctors to give pharmacists standing prescriptions to dispense the pills.’
      • ‘The figures exclude prescriptions that were dispensed by hospital pharmacies and medicines purchased over the counter.’
      • ‘Often the doctor (almost always a man) would dispense the necessary medicine himself!’
      • ‘Such medicines may only be dispensed under a prescription, made usually only by a medical practitioner or dentist.’
      • ‘Saudi chemists dispense medicine only in packets.’
      • ‘These all depended on hand cutting and rolling of the pills, usually done by the druggist who dispensed the medicine.’
      • ‘It has been alleged though that the decision to restrict private nurses from dispensing medicine came from private doctors who thought that many patients are flocking to the private clinics.’
      • ‘There are also a large number of mobile dispensaries and clinics where doctors are busy dispensing medicines to pilgrims.’
      • ‘The Act also prevents doctors from dispensing medicines without a new, costly and scarce licence which is supposed to be restricted to those who are more than five kilometres from a pharmacy.’
  • 2[no object] Manage without or get rid of.

    ‘let's dispense with the formalities, shall we?’
    • ‘When Alf came to manage England, he dispensed with the winger altogether and built his wingless wonders.’
    • ‘Index funds dispense with a manager and simply follow a stock index, such as the Standard & Poor's 500.’
    • ‘For fans, the big clear-out is always an emotional attic - much-loved souvenirs and total junk are dispensed with simultaneously.’
    • ‘I am now recovering well and have managed to dispense with my crutches.’
    • ‘In some places they're dispensing with the sledges altogether these days and are sliding downhill sitting on plastic bags.’
    • ‘Graham has a rather unique approach to transport management - mainly by dispensing with the transport element, and then also getting rid of the management angle as well.’
    • ‘The first-time penalty should be the cutting off of the water supply, the second, dispensing with electricity.’
    • ‘A vast array of beers including an ever-changing guest beer seem to qualify it as a serious pub, dispensing with its duty to offer any kind of lager or bitter you could desire in sober fashion.’
    • ‘By dispensing with any requirement of knowledge of the contents of the book on the part of the seller, the ordinance tends to impose a severe limitation on the public's access to constitutionally protected matter.’
    • ‘It had also cut costs by dispensing with its management board and centralising some technology functions.’
    • ‘Public sector general insurance companies are quietly dispensing with compassionate appointments in a bid to rationalise manpower utilisation.’
    • ‘I have no problems with men who have poured millions of pounds into football clubs deciding to dispense with the manager on a whim.’
    • ‘This communication preserves the structure of the courses whilst dispensing with the pressure of deadlines, or pre-set scheduling procedures.’
    • ‘This is taken as dispensing with the ‘management’ of the cultural agenda of copyright.’
    • ‘Turnpikes put lengthy stretches of road under unified management, thereby dispensing with the need for coordination among a multiplicity of local governments to improve roads.’
    • ‘It was decided that the best way forward was through the separation of religious belief from political power, dispensing with the age old over-reliance on tradition, the past and religious orthodoxy.’
    • ‘By dispensing with these often-meaningless boundaries and thinking these ostensibly different things together, the choice is not either/or but the more meaningful both/and.’
    • ‘At his best, Reynolds manages simultaneously to acclaim and to dispense with the trappings of fame.’
    • ‘The General Medical Council has also been informed, and hospital managers have revealed that they have dispensed with the services of the locum registrar on duty during the delivery.’
    • ‘So too is dispensing with managers that are no longer achieving results.’
    get rid of, throw away, throw out, cast aside, do away with, dispose of, discard, shed
    waive, omit, drop, leave out, forgo, give up, relinquish, renounce
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    1. 2.1Give special exemption from (a law or rule)
      ‘the Secretary of State was empowered to dispense with the nationality requirement in individual cases’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Ord 52, rule 4, allows the court to dispense with service of the notice of motion if it thinks it just so to do.’
      • ‘In our view it is not a case where the Court should make an order dispensing with compliance with Order 69A rule 3.’
      • ‘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. 2.2[with object]Grant (someone) an exemption from a religious obligation.
      ‘the Pope personally nominated him as bishop, dispensing him from his impediment’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘The designated cardinal however can petition the pope to dispense him from this requirement.’
      • ‘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.’
      exempt, excuse, except, release, relieve, reprieve, absolve
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  • dispense with someone's services

    • Dismiss someone from a job.

      ‘the club have no option but to dispense with his services’
      • ‘He would make certain that, in future, any group or artist he managed never had the power to dispense with his services.’
      • ‘But if she isn't, her once supportive German bosses will not waste any time in dispensing with her services.’
      • ‘What we do know is that no publisher made an offer and Mark, frustrated with Harris's failure, dispensed with his services.’
      • ‘I put it to him that if someone else were head coach he, as chief executive, would surely consider whether to dispense with their services.’
      • ‘If I don't see it through, it will be because they have dispensed with my services.’
      • ‘If he did, I would have dispensed with his services and gone it alone and won.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘He never dispensed with her services, or those of his solicitor.’
      • ‘After he has begun my father can dispense with my services and the routine becomes a monologue which moves on its own.’


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