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Dispense vs. Disperse: What's the Difference?

Edited by Sumera Saeed || By Sawaira Riaz || Updated on October 8, 2023
To dispense means to distribute or administer in portions, usually a service or substance, while to disperse is to scatter or spread widely.

Key Differences

The words "dispense" and "disperse," despite having different meanings, are sometimes used interchangeably due to their similar sounds, but it's crucial to understand the distinctions between them. "Dispense" primarily refers to distributing or administering in portions, and it often relates to providing a service or distributing substances, such as medication. On the other hand, "disperse" typically means to scatter, spread widely, or dissipate, and it is generally associated with the distribution of items or people over a wide area.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023
In the realm of healthcare and pharmacy, "dispense" is a commonly used term. It refers to the action of providing medications in appropriate amounts and labeled appropriately to a patient, according to the prescription. Conversely, "disperse" can refer to the action of particles spreading out uniformly in a medium, exemplified when light rays are dispersed by a prism, or when a group of people disperse into different directions.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023
When you delve into legal contexts, "dispense" may imply granting an exemption from a law, allowing individuals or entities to be free from specific legal obligations. In contrast, "disperse" in legal terms can imply the act of dissipating a crowd or assembly, especially in the context of a dispersal order, where people are directed to leave an area or stop a gathering to prevent disorder.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023
"Dispense" also extends to colloquial usage, depicting the act of distributing or providing, as in dispensing advice, wisdom, or justice. It implies a more controlled and deliberate allocation or provision of something. "Disperse," conversely, can represent the scattering or spreading of things like seeds, light, or even ideas, across different areas or mediums, generally indicating a broader and more random distribution.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023
In essence, while "dispense" is about distribution or provision in measured portions or specific allocations, "disperse" is about scattering, spreading, or distributing widely, without specific allocations, generally involving a range of areas or mediums.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023
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Comparison Chart

Meaning

To distribute or administer in portions.
To scatter, spread widely, or dissipate.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Usage Contexts

Healthcare, legal, general distribution of substances or advice
Physics, crowd control, general scattering of items
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Level of Control

More controlled and specific.
More random and widespread.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Relation to Medium

Often does not change the medium.
Often involves spreading through a medium.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Allocation

Specific allocations or portions.
Non-specific, wide distribution.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023
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Dispense and Disperse Definitions

Dispense

To distribute in portions or doses.
The pharmacist will dispense the medication as per the doctor's prescription.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023

Disperse

To spread over a wide area.
The crowd began to disperse after the concert ended.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

Dispense

To administer or supply.
The machine dispenses soft drinks to customers.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 28, 2023

Disperse

To dissipate or vanish.
The fog will disperse when the sun rises.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

Dispense

To manage without; to forgo.
You can't dispense with a good waterproof jacket when hiking in the rain.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Disperse

To cause to disappear or fade.
The strong wind dispersed the smoke.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Dispense

To exempt from a law or release from a duty.
The king can dispense subjects from their allegiance under certain conditions.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023

Disperse

To distribute loosely without specific allocation.
The manager dispersed the tasks among the team members.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 28, 2023

Dispense

To give or deal out, especially in parts or portions
A machine that dispenses candy.
A neighbor who freely dispenses advice.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To drive off or scatter in different directions
The police dispersed the crowd.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To prepare and give out (medicines).
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To strew or distribute widely
The airplane dispersed the leaflets over the city.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To administer (laws, for example).
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To cause to attenuate and disappear
The sun dispersed the fog.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To exempt or release, as from a duty or religious obligation.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To separate (light) into spectral rays.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To grant a dispensation or exemption.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To distribute (particles) evenly throughout a medium.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To issue, distribute, or give out.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To separate and move in different directions; scatter
The crowd dispersed once the concert ended.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To apply, as laws to particular cases; to administer; to execute; to manage; to direct.
To dispense justice
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To attenuate and vanish; dissipate
The storm clouds had dispersed by noon.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To supply or make up a medicine or prescription.
The pharmacist dispensed my tablets.
An optician can dispense spectacles.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To scatter in different directions.
The Jews are dispersed among all nations.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

(obsolete) To give a dispensation to (someone); to excuse.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To break up and disappear; to dissipate.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To compensate; to make up; to make amends.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To disseminate.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

(obsolete) Cost, expenditure.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To separate rays of light, etc., according to wavelength; to refract.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

(obsolete) The act of dispensing, dispensation.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To distribute throughout.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To deal out in portions; to distribute; to give; as, the steward dispenses provisions according directions; Nature dispenses her bounties; to dispense medicines.
He is delighted to dispense a share of it to all the company.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

Scattered or spread out.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To apply, as laws to particular cases; to administer; to execute; to manage; to direct.
While you dispense the laws, and guide the state.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To scatter abroad; to drive to different parts; to distribute; to diffuse; to spread; as, the Jews are dispersed among all nations.
The lips of the wise disperse knowledge.
Two lions, in the still, dark night,A herd of beeves disperse.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To pay for; to atone for.
His sin was dispensedWith gold, whereof it was compensed.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To scatter, so as to cause to vanish; to dissipate; as, to disperse vapors.
Dispersed are the glories.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To exempt; to excuse; to absolve; - with from.
It was resolved that all members of the House who held commissions, should be dispensed from parliamentary attendance.
He appeared to think himself born to be supported by others, and dispensed from all necessity of providing for himself.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To separate; to go or move into different parts; to vanish; as, the company dispersed at ten o'clock; the clouds disperse.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To compensate; to make up; to make amends.
One loving hourFor many years of sorrow can dispense.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To distribute wealth; to share one's abundance with others.
He hath dispersed, he hath given to the poor.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To give dispensation.
He [the pope] can also dispense in all matters of ecclesiastical law.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

Distribute loosely;
He scattered gun powder under the wagon
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

Dispensation; exemption.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

To cause to separate and go in different directions;
She waved her hand and scattered the crowds
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

Expense; profusion; outlay.
It was a vault built for great dispense.
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

Move away from each other;
The crowds dispersed
The children scattered in all directions when the teacher approached
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

Administer or bestow, as in small portions;
Administer critical remarks to everyone present
Dole out some money
Shell out pocket money for the children
Deal a blow to someone
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

Cause to separate;
Break up kidney stones
Disperse particles
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

Grant a dispensation; grant an exemption;
I was dispensed from this terrible task
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Disperse

Cause to become widely known;
Spread information
Circulate a rumor
Broadcast the news
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

Give or apply (medications)
Sawaira Riaz
Feb 07, 2023

Dispense

To deal out or distribute.
The organization dispenses food to the needy.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023

FAQs

Is dispense usually more controlled?

Yes, dispense typically involves more controlled and specific allocations or provisions.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Is dispense commonly used in healthcare?

Yes, dispense is frequently used in the context of providing medications in healthcare.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

Can disperse imply a crowd breaking up?

Yes, disperse can refer to a crowd breaking up and moving in different directions.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Are dispense and disperse synonymous?

No, dispense involves distribution or administration, while disperse involves scattering or spreading.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Can disperse refer to spreading through a medium?

Yes, disperse can refer to particles spreading through a medium or light being scattered.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Can you dispense advice?

Yes, you can dispense advice, meaning to give or share advice.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Can you dispense with formalities?

Yes, to dispense with formalities means to forgo or do away with them.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 28, 2023

Can disperse refer to the act of vanishing?

Yes, disperse can mean to dissipate or vanish, like smoke or fog.
Harlon Moss
Sep 28, 2023

Is dispense more about distribution?

Yes, dispense primarily relates to distribution or provision in measured portions or specific allocations.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Can one dispense laws?

In historical or legal contexts, dispensing could mean exempting someone from a law or obligation.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Can light be dispersed?

Yes, light can be dispersed, such as when it passes through a prism and scatters.
Sara Rehman
Sep 28, 2023

Is to disperse to allocate specifically?

No, to disperse typically involves a more random and widespread distribution without specific allocation.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Is dispersal the act of dispersing?

Yes, dispersal is the process or act of dispersing or being dispersed.
Janet White
Sep 28, 2023

Does dispense always involve tangible items?

No, you can dispense intangibles like advice or justice as well.
Sawaira Riaz
Sep 28, 2023

Can you use disperse when talking about seeds?

Yes, seeds can be dispersed by natural elements like wind or water.
Aimie Carlson
Sep 28, 2023
About Author
Written by
Sawaira Riaz
Sawaira is a dedicated content editor at difference.wiki, where she meticulously refines articles to ensure clarity and accuracy. With a keen eye for detail, she upholds the site's commitment to delivering insightful and precise content.
Edited by
Sumera Saeed
Sumera is an experienced content writer and editor with a niche in comparative analysis. At Diffeence Wiki, she crafts clear and unbiased comparisons to guide readers in making informed decisions. With a dedication to thorough research and quality, Sumera's work stands out in the digital realm. Off the clock, she enjoys reading and exploring diverse cultures.

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