Correct spelling of Dispatch / Despatch

Avatar Image
stoofur | 12:54 Tue 03rd Feb 2009 | Word Origins
20 Answers
Can somebody tell me what is the correct UK English spelling of Dispatch is? My friend says it is Despatch and they are both in the dictionary. Why why why?


1 to 20 of 20

Best Answer

No best answer has yet been selected by stoofur. Once a best answer has been selected, it will be shown here.

For more on marking an answer as the "Best Answer", please visit our FAQ.
The standard form of the word from its introduction in the 1500s was dis, but Dr Johnson - in his famous dictionary - gave des. Hence, the option we have today.
But you can't have "despatch rider" , only "dispatch rider".

English is a funny old language.
You can only despatch something you can't use
You can dispatch something
Sorry, Rollo. Sorry Ash. Look here.
It's a personal choice.As said, 'the dictionary' has both. The Oxford English Dictionary gives both, and makes no distinction between them, both having exactly the same meanings in every particular.
I use 'despatch' in the sense of 'speed' and 'dispatch' for the rider as in " I told the dispatch rider to deliver with despatch " but that's just my idiosyncracy! Either way round or using the same spelling, either spelling, is correct.
Question Author
Isn't English wierd?

I prefer the look of Dispatch for some reason.
The way you spell it, it certainly is, Stoofur!! ;-)
Let's not get on to inquiry/enquiry!
I wonder if stoofur with get that joke, heathfield.
It will depend on whether it was a spelling mistake or a typing error.
Personally if I was sending a parcel I would despatch it, but if I was sending someone to their maker I would dispatch them.
I don't know why.
Sorry, heathfield, see here: c55452/

Both spellings are valid and there in difference in them whatsoever.
Dispatch seems to come from the Italian word dispacciare (sic) and Despatch comes from the Spanish word despacher, both of which mean the same. Before these influences, we, in Britain, used the French verb depeacher.

But all of these come from the same Latin root.
I think Heathfield was referring to Stoofur's spelling of weird rather than dispatch/despatch, Ethel!
Question Author
What happened to I before e except after the ocean or something like that?
That rule has obviously left you all at sea, Stoofur! Check out some exceptions here.
Question Author
Eye 'ad ay looke att yor websight hand eye knead ay lye dahn nowe.
I think there is a difference, despite the generally expressed opinion that they are identical words. To my mind, despatch is a verb, as in despatch a parcel or execute someone (sorry fredpuli47 and sandmaster, for different reasons!), and dispatch is an abstract noun similar to the word 'speed', as in to act with dispatch - meaning quickly.

So what if the Oxford English Dictionary disagrees with my opinion! ("There is some difference of opinion on this matter - on the one side there is me, and on the other side there is the rest of the world" to misquote from Blackadder).
-- answer removed --
-- answer removed --
-- answer removed --
Dispatch or Despatch
In the age of radio and telephone communications to “patch” meant to connect or hook up (Morse, telegrams, conversations, etc.). dis- is a prefix used to indicate removal or release. When a message was sent it was “dis”-patched (removed from the circuit which resulted in the message being “sent”). This is why in Britain we should use dispatch when deliveries are “sent”. de- is a prefix used to indicate removal or separation. De-spatch would mean you would need to remove or separate your spatch and you don’t want to be doing that!

1 to 20 of 20

Do you know the answer?

Correct spelling of Dispatch / Despatch

Answer Question >>

Related Questions