What Is Dole Out? – Usage, Meaning & Examples

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Candace Osmond

Candace Osmond studied Advanced Writing & Editing Essentials at MHC. She’s been an International and USA TODAY Bestselling Author for over a decade. And she’s worked as an Editor for several mid-sized publications. Candace has a keen eye for content editing and a high degree of expertise in Fiction.

In the grand buffet of English language expressions, dole out is one savory term that deserves a hearty serving of attention. But I have so much confusion around the correct spelling of this term and how to properly use it in a sentence. So, I’ll explain all the details and serve you some insight!

Doll Out or Dole Out: What Is the Correct Spelling of Dole Out

What Is Dole Out Usage Meaning Examples

Let’s settle this quickly: the correct term is dole out, not doll out. The phrasal verb relates to distributing or dispensing, which doesn’t have much to do with dolls unless you’re distributing dolls!

Dole Out Meaning Explained

To dole out something means to distribute or give it away in portions. It’s often used when people are discussing distributing resources, like money or time, even food, and is usually with the connotation that the distribution is controlled, measured or stingy.

Also, I’ve seen a lot of people hyphenate it as dole-out, but that would be incorrect. Always write it as two separate words, dole and out.

Different Ways to Say It

The phrase dole out is flexible, morphing to fit various tenses and uses in sentences.

  • Dole out: I’ll dole out the candy to the kids.
  • Doling out: She’s been doling out advice all day.
  • Dole it out: Whenever he wins the lottery, he just loves to dole it out.
  • Doles out: She doles out chores to each family member.
  • Doled out: They doled out the profits among the stakeholders.

Etymology of the Term Dole Out

The origin of the term dole out comes from the Old English word dāl, meaning divided or share. This was connected to the idea of doling out goods or resources in measured amounts, which has continued into our usage of the term today.

Dole Out Synonyms

If dole out doesn’t fit the vibe of what you’re writing or talking about, then try any one of these words that mean the same thing.

  • Distribute
  • Dispense
  • Allocate
  • Divide
  • Apportion

Dole Out Examples in a Sentence

What Is Dole Out Usage Meaning Examples 1

Seeing how a word or phrase fits within a full sentence can help you visualize how you can apply it to certain contexts.

  • Our teacher had to dole out the art supplies to make sure all students got a fair share.
  • The government doles out subsidies to support local farmers, which is great when you consider the state of the world right now.
  • During the concert, water was doled out to all the fans to prevent dehydration in the crowd.
  • Big bonuses were doled out to the entire staff after our company’s insanely successful year.
  • They had to dole out millions of dollars after losing the trial. 

Dole It Out

And there you have it—the ins and outs of the term dole out. Whether you’re dealing with candy or chores, knowing how to properly dole something out can make all the difference. You can apply this to any situation where something is being divided and given out, even advice!

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