- a portion or allotment of money, food, etc., especially as given at regular intervals by a charity or for maintenance.
- a dealing out or distributing, especially in charity.
- a form of payment to the unemployed instituted by the British government in 1918.
- any similar payment by a government to an unemployed person.
- Archaic. one’s fate or destiny.
verb (used with object), doled, dol·ing.
- to distribute in charity.
- to give out sparingly or in small quantities (usually followed by out): The last of the water was doled out to the thirsty crew.
- on the dole, receiving payment from the government, as relief: They couldn’t afford any luxuries while living on the dole.
- a small portion or share, as of money or food, given to a poor person
- the act of giving or distributing such portions
- the dole British informal money received from the state while out of work
- on the dole British informal receiving such money
- archaic fate
- (tr usually foll by out) to distribute, esp in small portions
- archaic grief or mourning
Old English dal “state of being divided; sharing, giving out,” shortened from gedal “portion,” related to dæl “deal,” from Proto-Germanic *dailiz (cf. Old Frisian and Old Saxon del, Middle Dutch deil, Dutch deel, Old High German teil, German Teil). On the dole is 1920s.
“hand out charity,” mid-15c., from dole (n.). Related: Doled; doling.