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Supposedly vs. Supposably


[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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Meditation (I speak only for myself) is the least dispensable of the day's doings.

    Mental Efficiency Arnold Bennett
  • He believes that what is dispensable by the one, without loss, is dispensable by the other.

    A Grammar of Freethought Chapman Cohen
  • In like fashion every link in the chain is devised to save every possible foot-pound of energy, every dispensable moment of time.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • Please do not take this as an inference that all vocal teachers are bad or are dispensable.

  • We are thus once more reminded of the distinction between essential or unavoidable relational concepts and the dispensable type.

    Language Edward Sapir
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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