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dispatch definition


This page has 15 definitions of dispatch in English. Dispatch is a verb and noun. Examples of how to use dispatch in a sentence are shown. Also define these 0 related words and terms: .


Alternative forms


From Spanish despachar or Italian dispacciare, replacing alternate reflex depeach, which is from French dépêcher. The first known use in writing (in the past tense, spelled as dispached) is by Bishop Cuthbert Tunstall in 1517. This would be unusually early for a borrowing from a Romance language other than French, but Tunstall had studied in Italy and was Commissioner to Spain, so this word may have been borrowed through diplomatic circles. The alternative spelling despatch was introduced in Samuel Johnson's dictionary, probably by accident.



dispatch (third-person singular simple present dispatches, present participle dispatching, simple past and past participle dispatched)

  1. (transitive) To send (a shipment) with promptness.
  2. (transitive) To send (a person) away hastily.
    • 2008, BioWare, Mass Effect (Science Fiction), Redwood City: Electronic Arts, →ISBN, OCLC 246633669, PC, scene: Salarians: League of One Codex entry:
      The League of One was suddenly exposed and in danger of being hunted by enemies of the salarians. Before any harm could be done, the team mysteriously disappeared.[...]Realizing the threat posed by this rogue outfit, the Special Tasks Group dispatched a team of hunters. When they didn't return, the STG dispatched ten of its brightest operators with broad discretionary powers. Only two returned; they reported no evidence of the League.
  3. (transitive) To send (an important official message) promptly, by means of a diplomat or military officer.
  4. (transitive) To send (a journalist) to a place in order to report.
    • 2013 April 9, Andrei Lankov, “Stay Cool. Call North Korea’s Bluff.”, in New York Times[1]:
      Scores of foreign journalists have been dispatched to Seoul to report on the growing tensions between the two Koreas and the possibility of war.
  5. (transitive) To dispose of speedily, as business; to execute quickly; to make a speedy end of; to finish; to perform.
  6. (transitive) To rid; to free.
  7. (transitive) To destroy (someone or something) quickly and efficiently.
    Synonyms: destroy, kill
    • 2017 August 27, Brandon Nowalk, “Game Of Thrones slows down for the longest, and best, episode of the season (newbies)”, in The Onion AV Club[3]:
      So Tyrion hatches one last brilliant scheme in a season full of them, and this one goes exactly as well as all the others, even if it doesn’t look like it at first. He alone takes a meeting with Cersei, in her chambers, with the Mountain ready and waiting to dispatch him.
  8. (transitive, computing) To pass on for further processing, especially via a dispatch table (often with to).
    • 2004, Peter Gutmann, Cryptographic Security Architecture: Design and Verification, page 102:
      These handlers perform any additional checking and processing that may be necessary before and after a message is dispatched to an object. In addition, some message types are handled internally by the kernel []
  9. (intransitive, obsolete) To hurry.
  10. (transitive, obsolete) To deprive.



Related terms



dispatch (countable and uncountable, plural dispatches)

  1. A message sent quickly, as a shipment, a prompt settlement of a business, or an important official message sent by a diplomat, government official, military officer, etc.
    • 2013 June 7, Gary Younge, “Hypocrisy lies at heart of Manning prosecution”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 18:
      WikiLeaks did not cause these uprisings but it certainly informed them. The dispatches revealed details of corruption and kleptocracy that many Tunisians suspected, but could not prove, and would cite as they took to the streets. They also exposed the blatant discrepancy between the west's professed values and actual foreign policies.
  2. The act of doing something quickly.
    Synonyms: haste, hurry, rapidity
    We must act with dispatch in this matter.
    • 1661, John Fell, The Life of the most learned, reverend and pious Dr. H. Hammond
      During the whole time of his abode in the university he generally spent thirteen hours of the day in study; by which assiduity besides an exact dispatch of the whole course of philosophy, he read over in a manner all classic authors that are extant []
    • 2012 December 1, “An internet of airborne things”, in The Economist, volume 405, number 8813, page 3 (Technology Quarterly):
      A farmer could place an order for a new tractor part by text message and pay for it by mobile money-transfer. A supplier many miles away would then take the part to the local matternet station for airborne dispatch via drone.
  3. A mission by an emergency response service, typically involving attending to an emergency in the field.
  4. (computing) The passing on of a message for further processing, especially through a dispatch table.
  5. (obsolete) A dismissal.

Derived terms