Dispatch with, dispense from, dispel with, …

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The Washington Post's digital front page a little while ago told us that Donald Trump has given in to those who wanted him to "dispatch with" Stephen Bannon:

Earlier today, Mitt Romney's Facebook post explained that he would "dispense from" discussion of certain aspects of Trump's comments on the Charlottesville events:

And in February of 2016, Marco Rubio urged us to "dispel with this fiction that Barack Obama doesn't know what he's doing".

This tour of the political dis-universe reminds me of the problems that I have trying to decide whether I've made an idiomatic choice of verb and preposition (or case) in languages that I don't know very well — and makes me wonder, as I sometimes do, whether I've slipped into a parallel time-line where English is not quite what I thought it was.

So perhaps we'll soon learn that the White House has disowned of Stephen Miller, discarded from tax reform, disdained over Gary Cohn, disembodied from infrastructure funding , or even displaced out of Jared Kushner.



  1. wally w said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 1:44 pm

    dissemble about climate change?

  2. Robert said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 2:24 pm

    I really like the sound of "disdain over". I'm definitely going to be on the lookout for people over whom I can disdain.

  3. Timo said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 2:43 pm

    (It reminds you what exactly?)
    I'm not a native English speaker, but from what I can gather from a quick and dirty google search ("will dispense from" -water), that can be rendered as 'leave, come out of > stay away from'. Or it might just be an error on Romney's side.

    [(myl) I'd prefer to describe it as an innovative usage on Romney's part.

    The usual patterns are

    (1) dispense X = "issue or distribute X", "supply X as medicine"
    (2) dispense with X = "do without X";
    (3) dispense X from Y (obsolete) = "give X a (religious) excuse or dispensation to violate rule Y"

    Pattern (1) can include a source phrase expressed with from, e.g.

    …an activation code (provided by the boss in charge of the operation) in order to dispense money from the ATM…
    A permit is not required for practitioners who dispense medications from their offices or clinics …
    The grooves on these wooden dippers help you easily collect and dispense honey from the jar.

    But that's not what Mr. Romney meant by "…dispense for now from discussion of the moral character of the president's Charlottesville statements".

    Nor did he really mean "dispense for now with discussion of …", though that's closer, He seems to have intended something that I would have expressed as "…refrain for now from discussion…"

    His usage is the sort of innovation that might well catch on. But I don't find much if any evidence on the web that it's a widespread phenomenon, though I expect that a similar choice has occasionally been made by others.]

  4. Ed M said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 3:18 pm

    The presidency has disappeared below the abyss of civility.

  5. Anthony said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 3:51 pm

    Down into the sub-abyss.

  6. Joe said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 4:34 pm

    I'm having trouble understanding what Romney meant, but I think he meant "refrain" rather than "dispense" ( the "for now" to me is the key) but I'm not sure.

  7. Joe said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 4:39 pm

    Sorry, I just say that Mark said the same thing in a comment. So if it is an innovation, I guess it's a novel sense of ""dispense?"

  8. Rudi said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 4:54 pm

    "Dispatch with" struck me as more familiar than the others. Do you view them all as equally nonstandard?

    Some quick web searching turns up examples both old and new. The Century Dictionary gives this example from Antony and Cleopatra: "They have dispatched with Pompey; he is gone." Note that here, "dispatch with" means "to finish with" rather than "to leave with."

    More recent: "Clinton signals that she is ready to dispatch with sanders" http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/09/politics/hillary-clinton-bernie-sanders-republicans-new-york/index.html

    Also: "Deploying an expletive, Mr. Rodman warned Mr. Cruz that the businessman would soon dispatch with him as well."

  9. J.W. Brewer said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 5:03 pm

    I don't know if now-usually-obsolete sense 3 was ever current among Mormons, much less as recently as Romney's tenure as a bishop, but one can imagine a similar context in which the speaker is telling the audience that he's letting them off the hook for any religious or quasi-religious obligation they may feel to pause to focus on X (and, for example, spend time somewhat ritualistically deploring it) because he wants them to cut to the chase and focus on Y instead. Obviously adding an object ("I will dispense you for now") would make that sense clearer, and I don't think it's what Romney was trying to say here.

    (While most 21st century examples that sense I found in a quick dig into the google books corpus are in works of history or historical fiction where otherwise obsolete expressions add a nice "period" atmosphere, there were a few completely modern uses in surprising places like "Patents, Copyrights and Trademarks for Dummies.")

  10. Truffula said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 5:41 pm

    Unlike Romney's use of dispense, the Post's use of "dispatch with" seems long standing and also in reasonably wide current use. A search for "dispatch with him" found a play from the eighteenth century with "and then it 'twill be / An hour before I can dispatch with him; / Or very near" and there is a Reuters post from 2016 with "But Sanders supporters shrug off that worry, arguing that Trump is such a flawed candidate that Clinton will easily dispatch with him if she faces him in the Nov. 8 election."

    [(myl) "Long standing", maybe; "reasonably wide current use", no. COCA has 1.490 instances of the word dispatch, of which 6 involve the sequence "dispatch with". Of those 6, none replicate the construction in the Post's teaser:

    * Joseph Domencic, as Continental Congress secretary Charles Thomson, conveys each dispatch with gravity,
    * Detective Jack Ahearn radioed dispatch with their location
    * … the combination of natural and digital sounds often draws coyotes in close enough to dispatch with a scattergun.
    * My father, himself shot down by cancer at forty-two, with the same quick dispatch with which he taught me guns and killing.
    * Stanley sent his dispatch with a caravan going east
    * But when I tried, all I got was an icy stare and a quick dispatch with "Not interested."

    So zero instances in 540 million words of diverse text types — ]

  11. cameron said,

    August 18, 2017 @ 6:58 pm

    When you play the Game of Urinals you win, or someone dispenses urine upon your shoes.

  12. Haamu said,

    August 19, 2017 @ 11:35 am

    Since it's suspected by many that there's a parallel timeline where "Berenstain" is spelled "Berenstein," and people seem to be slipping between the two, why not this?

  13. maidhc said,

    August 20, 2017 @ 2:16 am

    I just found this in a Wikipedia article:

    The founder of the food manufacturer Chun King and the creator of canned chow mein admits of using Italian spices to make his product more acceptable to Americans whose ancestors came from Europe.

    I would say "admits to".

  14. dw said,

    August 20, 2017 @ 10:40 am

    Thanks for speaking to this question.

  15. mg said,

    August 20, 2017 @ 12:48 pm

    The problem with prepositions is that the choice of which one becomes standard is often arbitrary. Just look at the regional differences in the use of "stand in line" versus "stand on line", or the many differences in standard preposition choice between American and British English.

    Given this arbitrariness, it's not surprising that non-standard choices are sometimes made in spontaneous speech or quickly written pieces (especially in today's news world, where copy-editors have too often been dispatched with).

  16. James Wimberley said,

    August 26, 2017 @ 5:39 am

    It's all about the transitive gender bathrooms.

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