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From Spanish despachar or Italian dispacciare, from Provençal despachar "to get rid of", from Middle French despeechier "to set free", from Old French

The etymology of the word is uncertain. It is connected to the French dépêcher and dépêche which are in meaning equivalents to this word. The French words are made up of the prefix dés- (Lat. dis-) and the root of empêcher (Lat. impedicare, composed from prefix in- and pedica) translated as 'to refrain', 'to stop'. The French word came into English as "depeach", which was in use from the 15th century until "despatch" was introduced. This word is direct from the Italian dispacciare, or Spanish despachar. The New English Dictionary finds the earliest instance of dispatch letter to Henry VIII. from Bishop Tunstall, commissioner to Spain in 1516–1517.



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

  1. To send a shipment with promptness.
  2. To send an important official message sent by a diplomat or military officer with promptness.
  3. 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.
  4. To hurry.
  5. To dispose of speedily, as business; to execute quickly; to make a speedy end of; to finish; to perform.
    • Shakespeare
      Ere we put ourselves in arms, dispatch we / The business we have talked of.
    • Robynson (More's Utopia)
      [The] harvest men [] almost in one fair day dispatcheth all the harvest work.
  6. To rid; to free.
    • Udall
      I had clean dispatched myself of this great charge.
  7. (obsolete) To deprive.
  8. To destroy quickly and efficiently.
  9. (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 []



Related termsEdit



dispatch (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, or military officer.
    • 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.
    When you act with dispatch, you act speedily and efficiently.
    • 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 attend to an emergency in the field.
  4. (obsolete) A dismissal.


Derived termsEdit