Etymology
Advertisement

dispense (v.)

mid-14c., dispensen, "to dispose of, deal or divide out," from Old French dispenser "give out" (13c.), from Latin dispensare "disburse, administer, distribute (by weight)," frequentative of dispendere "pay out," from dis- "out" (see dis-) + pendere "to hang, cause to hang; weigh; pay" (from PIE root *(s)pen- "to draw, stretch, spin").

In Medieval Latin, dispendere was used in the ecclesiastical sense of "grant licence to do what is forbidden or omit what is required" (a power of popes, bishops, etc.), and thus acquired a sense of "grant remission from punishment or exemption from law," hence the use of the English verb in the senses "to do away with" (1570s), "do without" (c. 1600). The older sense is preserved in dispensary. Related: Dispensed; dispensing.

Origin and meaning of dispense
Advertisement
Advertisement
Definitions of dispense

dispense (v.)
administer or bestow, as in small portions;
the machine dispenses soft drinks
Synonyms: distribute / administer / mete out / deal / parcel out / lot / shell out / deal out / dish out / allot / dole out
dispense (v.)
grant a dispensation; grant an exemption;
I was dispensed from this terrible task
dispense (v.)
give or apply (medications);
Synonyms: administer
From wordnet.princeton.edu