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From Old French despensacion, from Latin dispensātiō.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /dɪsˌpɛnˈseɪʃən/
    • (file)
  • Rhymes: -eɪʃən


dispensation (countable and uncountable, plural dispensations)

  1. The act of dispensing or dealing out; distribution
    a fair dispensation of money
  2. The distribution of good and evil by God to man.
    • 1625, George Sandys, Sacrae heptades:
      Shall we not accompt theſe a part of Gods dispenſation, and therefore good in the Fountaine, from whence they flowed
  3. That which is dispensed, dealt out, or given; that which is bestowed on someone
    • 2016, Robert D. Cornwall, William Gibson, Religion, Politics and Dissent:
      Bowman certainly lost no time in travelling south to obtain his dispensation once he had published the sermon
  4. A system of principles, promises, and rules ordained and administered; scheme; economy
    the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations
    • 1888, C. I. Scofield, “The Seven Dispensations”, in Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth (2 Tim. 2:15): Ten Outline Studies of The More Important Divisions of Scripture[1], Second edition (Religion), Philadelphia, Penn.: Philadelphia School of the Bible, published 1923, →OCLC, pages 23, 24:
      The sacrificial death of the Lord Jesus Christ introduced the dispensation of pure grace—which means undeserved favor, or God GIVING righteousness, instead of God REQUIRING righteousness, as under Law. []
      The first event in the closing of this dispensation will be the descent of the Lord from Heaven, when sleeping saints will be raised and, together with believers then living, caught up “to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” 1 Thess. 4: 16, 17.
  5. The relaxation of a law in a particular case; permission to do something forbidden, or to omit doing something enjoined; exemption.
    • 2003, J. Abraham, H. Lawton Smith, Helen Lawton Smith, Regulation of the Pharmaceutical Industry:
      Special grounds for giving dispensation to see classified documents include research purposes.
    1. (Catholicism) In the Roman Catholic Church, an exemption from some ecclesiastical law, or from an obligation to God which a person has incurred of his own free will (oaths, vows, etc.).
      • 1822, [Walter Scott], chapter I, in Peveril of the Peak. [], volume I, Edinburgh: [] Archibald Constable and Co.; London: Hurst, Robinson, and Co., →OCLC, pages 5–6:
        [H]e had a dispensation for conforming in outward observances to the Protestant faith.
      • 1905, Samuel Rutherford Crockett, May Margaret: called "the fair maid of Galloway," - Page 184:
        Why, there has gone already to Rome a messenger to crave a second dispensation from his Popeship, and the King himself hath signed the request, praying that you and I should graciously be permitted to wed!

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dispensation c (singular definite dispensationen, plural indefinite dispensationer)

  1. dispensation


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