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

  • n. Charitable dispensation of goods, especially money, food, or clothing.
  • n. A share of money, food, or clothing that has been charitably given.
  • n. Chiefly British The distribution by the government of relief payments to the unemployed; welfare.
  • n. Archaic One's fate.
  • transitive v. To dispense as charity.
  • transitive v. To give out in small portions; distribute sparingly. See Synonyms at distribute.
  • idiom on the dole Receiving regular relief payments from or as if from the government.
  • n. Archaic Sorrow; grief; dolor.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To distribute in small amounts; to share out small portions of a meager resource.
  • n. Money or other goods given as charity.
  • n. Payment by the state to the unemployed.
  • n. Sorrow or grief; dolour.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. grief; sorrow; lamentation.
  • n. See dolus.
  • n. Distribution; dealing; apportionment.
  • n. That which is dealt out; a part, share, or portion also, a scanty share or allowance.
  • n. Alms; charitable gratuity or portion.
  • n. A boundary; a landmark.
  • n. A void space left in tillage.
  • transitive v. To deal out in small portions; to distribute, as a dole; to deal out scantily or grudgingly.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To give in portions or small quantities, as alms to the poor; apportion; distribute; deal: commonly with out: often implying that what is distributed is limited in quantity or is given grudgingly.
  • To pare and thin (leather or skins).
  • n. A part apportioned or divided out; portion; share; lot; fortune: same as deal
  • n. In mining, one of the shares or parts into which a parcel of ore is divided for distribution among the various persons to whom it belongs.
  • n. A portion of money, food, or other things distributed in charity; what is given in charity; alms; gratuity.
  • n. The act of dealing out or distributing: as, the power of dole and donative.
  • n. Grief; sorrow; lamentation; mourning.
  • n. Specifically The moaning of doves.
  • n. In falconry, a flock of turtle-doves.
  • n. In Scots law, malevolent intention; malice.
  • n. A boundary; a landmark.
  • n. The goal in a game.
  • n. A strip of land left unplowed between two plowed portions; a broad balk.
  • n. A part or portion of a meadow in which several persons have shares. See dole-meadow.
  • n. A low flat place.

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

  • n. money received from the state
  • n. a share of money or food or clothing that has been charitably given


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

Middle English dol, part, share, from Old English dāl; see dail- in Indo-European roots.
Middle English dol, from Old French dol, deul, from Late Latin dolus, from Latin dolēre, to feel pain, grieve.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Middle English dol, from Old English dāl ("portion, share, division, allotment"), from Proto-Germanic *dailan (“part, deal”), from Proto-Indo-European *dhAil- (“part, watershed”). Cognate with Albanian thelë ("portion,piece") and Old Church Slavonic  (dola),  (dilu, "part"). More at deal.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

Ultimately from Latin dolor.


  • To be on the dole is a horrible experience; therefore it is no worse to be in the torture-chambers of the Gestapo.

    The Lion and the Unicorn

  • We are most anxious in Canada to secure a greater population, but a man who has once received the "dole" argues, "why should I leave England, where the 'dole' is obtainable, and migrate to Canada, where it is not to be secured?"

    A Canadian's View of the Empire as Seen From London

  • The actual dole is not that much money – the real advantage for the people at the bottom of the pile for signing on in the UK is housing benefits and not having to pay tax.

    Gadget Election Thought For Today « POLICE INSPECTOR BLOG

  • The word dole is usually applied heartlessly to welfare mothers sustained in their dire poverty by meager government handouts, not to the top bankers now ripping off the taxpayers.

    Robert Scheer: No Tough Love for Wall Street

  • The dole, in other words, was counterproductive; it tended to “impair that anxiety for a livelihood which is almost instinctive”; giving out money could “relax individual exertion by unnerving the arm of industry.”

    A History of American Law

  • As on the U.A.B., a quarter of a married man’s dole is regarded as rent.

    The Road to Wigan Pier

  • But for the average British working man and his family, the dole is only just enough to provide adequate clothes and adequate food, and clothes and food are not enough for the normal British working man.

    The British Empire and the World Crisis

  • Noel Saunders, managing director of what will be the first new John Lewis store in London for 20 years, said 200 of his 800 new staff would be taken from the long-term dole queues.

    Evening Standard - Home

  • Labor's gentle blitz on bludgers stops just short of a shove LONG-TERM dole recipients, teenagers who have no interest in either studying or working and able-bodied people claiming the disabled pension are facing what Treasurer Wayne Swan calls a "nudge" into the workforce. | Top Stories

  • The Government has dropped controversial plans to cut housing benefit for long-term dole claimants.

    WalesOnline - Home


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  • There is a meaning saying dole means fate but none of the examples illustrate that meaning.

    June 11, 2009