Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English homepage

Topic: LAW

Date: 1300-1400
Language: Latin
Origin: dispensare 'to share out', from pendere 'to weigh'

dispense

verb
     
di‧spense [transitive] formal
1 to give something to people, especially in fixed amounts [= give out]
dispense something to somebody
Villagers dispensed tea to visitors.
a machine for dispensing cash
2SCL to officially provide something for people
dispense justice (=decide whether or not someone is guilty of a crime and what punishment they should receive)
3MD to officially prepare and give medicines to people

dispense with something

phrasal verb
to not use or do something that people usually use or do, because it is not necessary:
Ann suggested that they dispense with speeches altogether at the wedding.
dispense with somebody's services (=no longer employ someone)
Let's dispense with the formalities (=speak openly and directly), shall we?
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