Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • transitive v. To relegate to a specific destination or send on specific business. See Synonyms at send1.
  • transitive v. To complete, transact, or dispose of promptly.
  • transitive v. To eat up (food); finish off (a dish or meal).
  • transitive v. To put to death summarily.
  • n. The act of sending off, as to a specific destination.
  • n. Dismissal or rejection of something regarded as unimportant or unworthy of consideration: "[his] breezy dispatch of another Establishment fiction writer” ( Christopher Hitchens).
  • n. The act of putting to death.
  • n. Speed in performance or movement. See Synonyms at haste.
  • n. A written message, particularly an official communication, sent with speed.
  • n. An important message sent by a diplomat or an officer in the armed forces.
  • n. A news item sent to a news organization, as by a correspondent.
  • n. An organization or conveyance for delivering goods.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To send a shipment with promptness.
  • v. To send an important official message sent by a diplomat or military officer with promptness.
  • v. To hurry.
  • v. To deprive.
  • v. To destroy quickly and efficiently.
  • v. To pass on for further processing, especially via a dispatch table (often with to).
  • n. 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.
  • n. The act of getting rid of something quickly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of sending a message or messenger in haste or on important business.
  • n. Any sending away; dismissal; riddance.
  • n. The finishing up of a business; speedy performance, as of business; prompt execution; diligence; haste.
  • n. A message dispatched or sent with speed; especially, an important official letter sent from one public officer to another; -- often used in the plural
  • n. A message transmitted by telegraph.
  • intransitive v. To make haste; to conclude an affair; to finish a matter of business.
  • transitive v. To dispose of speedily, as business; to execute quickly; to make a speedy end of; to finish; to perform.
  • transitive v. To rid; to free.
  • transitive v. To get rid of by sending off; to send away hastily.
  • transitive v. To send off or away; -- particularly applied to sending off messengers, messages, letters, etc., on special business, and implying haste.
  • transitive v. To send out of the world; to put to death.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • etc. See despatch, etc.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. killing a person or animal
  • v. dispose of rapidly and without delay and efficiently
  • v. send away towards a designated goal
  • n. the act of sending off something
  • n. an official report (usually sent in haste)
  • v. kill intentionally and with premeditation
  • v. kill without delay
  • n. the property of being prompt and efficient
  • v. complete or carry out

Etymologies

Spanish despachar or Italian dispacciare, both probably ultimately from Old Provençal empachar, to impede, from Vulgar Latin *impāctāre, frequentative of Latin impingere, to dash against; see impinge.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
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, which must be derived from the Lat. root appearing in pactus (the perfect passive infinitive of the verb pangere) meaning fixed, fastened. The New English Dictionary finds the earliest instance of dispatch letter to Henry VIII. from Bishop Tunstall, commissioner to Spain in 1516–1517. (Wiktionary)

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