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[dih-spen-suh-buh l] /dɪˈspɛn sə bəl/
capable of being dispensed with or done without; not necessary or essential.
capable of being dispensed or administered:
The money is not dispensable at present.
Roman Catholic Church. capable of being permitted or forgiven, as an offense or sin.
Origin of dispensable
1525-35; < Medieval Latin dispēnsābilis, equivalent to Latin dispēns(āre) to distribute by weight (see dispense) + -ābilis -able
Related forms
dispensability, dispensableness, noun
nondispensable, adjective
undispensable, adjective
1. expendable, unnecessary; unessential, unimportant, extraneous. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for dispensable
  • We are thus once more reminded of the distinction between essential or unavoidable relational concepts and the dispensable type.
  • Normally mutations that occur in somatic cells affect only that cell and its descendants which are ultimately dispensable.
  • The manufacture is a dispensable part of the value chain,however, it also impact negatively upon the environment.
  • Smaller firms, which offer imaginative-and perhaps dispensable-niche services could struggle in a slowdown.
  • Bribery and sloppy constructions are quite normal human lives are dispensable.
  • Ultimately, no matter how popular he got, he was dispensable.
British Dictionary definitions for dispensable


not essential; expendable
capable of being distributed
(of a law, vow, etc) able to be relaxed
Derived Forms
dispensability, dispensableness, noun
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 dispensable

1530s, "subject to dispensation," from Medieval Latin dispensabilis, from dispensare (see dispense). Meaning "that can be done without" is from 1640s. Related: Dispensability.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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dispensable in Medicine

dispensable dis·pen·sa·ble (dĭ-spěn'sə-bəl)
Capable of being dispensed, administered, or distributed. Used of a drug.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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