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[dis-burs] /dɪsˈbɜrs/
verb (used with object), disbursed, disbursing.
to pay out (money), especially for expenses; expend.
to distribute or scatter:
Our troops were disbursed over a wide area. She disbursed the flowers to the children.
Origin of disburse
1520-30; < Middle French desbourser, Old French desborser, equivalent to des- dis-1 + -borser, derivative of borse purse < Late Latin bursa bag
Related forms
disbursable, adjective
disburser, noun
nondisbursable, adjective
nondisbursed, adjective
redisburse, verb (used with object), redisbursed, redisbursing.
undisbursed, adjective
well-disbursed, adjective
Can be confused
disburse, disperse.
1. lay out. See spend. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for disburse
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • We, as loyal subjects of His Majesty, were ready to disburse whatever was demanded of us.

    Paddy Finn W. H. G. Kingston
  • You have only your time to lose, while I am obliged to disburse two thousand francs.

  • When the day came round to call upon him and disburse rents, the tenants went in a body to the Yard-heads.

  • There were but few stores handy to enable the foreigner to disburse the necessary grain.

    Rulers of India: Lord Clive George Bruce Malleson
  • Should we not control the banks in the cities and towns where we disburse so much money?

  • When Richford followed you I had to borrow that tray and the rest of it and disburse another half sovereign.

    The Slave of Silence Fred M. White
British Dictionary definitions for disburse


(transitive) to pay out
Derived Forms
disbursable, adjective
disbursement, noun
disburser, noun
Usage note
Disburse is sometimes wrongly used where disperse is meant: the police used a water cannon to disperse (not disburse) the crowd
Word Origin
C16: from Old French desborser, from des-dis-1 + borser to obtain money, from borse bag, from Late Latin bursa
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for disburse

1520s, disbourse, from Old French desbourser (13c.) "extract (money) from a purse, spend (money)," from des- (see dis-) + bourse "purse" (see bursar). Related: Disbursed; disbursing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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