from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • transitive verb To relegate to a specific destination or send on specific business. synonym: send.
  • transitive verb To complete, transact, or dispose of promptly.
  • transitive verb To eat up (food); finish off (a dish or meal).
  • transitive verb To put to death summarily.
  • noun The act of sending off, as to a specific destination.
  • noun Dismissal or rejection of something regarded as unimportant or unworthy of consideration.
  • noun The act of putting to death.
  • noun Speed in performance or movement. synonym: haste.
  • noun A written message, particularly an official communication, sent with speed.
  • noun An important message sent by a diplomat or an officer in the armed forces.
  • noun A news item sent to a news organization, as by a correspondent.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • etc. See despatch, etc.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

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

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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


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

[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.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

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.


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  • Peterson was quick to shut down students who used "facile ideological arguments" from either end of the political spectrum. "He would dispatch them readily and was unafraid to do so," Hurwitz says.

    January 18, 2018