Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between “Despatch” and “Dispatch”

Difference Between “Despatch” and “Dispatch”

“Despatch” vs. “Dispatch”

“Despatch” and “dispatch” might sound similar, and you might be surprised that the two words also share the same meaning. Both words refer to the act of sending something or someone to a specific place regarding a situation. The same applies to the object or person being sent. Another context where both terms are used is when it comes to killing someone.

Both “despatch” and “dispatch” can function as both a verb and a noun. As a verb, both terms can be used as transitive verbs.

The main difference between the two terms is in their spelling. The word “dispatch” is spelled with the letter “i,” while “despatch” is spelled with the letter “e.”

The reason for the difference in the spelling and vowel usage began when Dr. Samuel Johnson, an Englishman, used “des” as the form of the word in his dictionary, A Dictionary of the English Language (written in 1755). The standard form of the word was “dis,” which was introduced in the 1500s and has been in use since.

Despite the variation in spelling, both words descended from the same Latin root word.

Another difference is the people and the place the terms are used for. The British are known to use the word “despatch” rather than “dispatch.” However, this has become rare with the influence of American English throughout the world. Meanwhile, “dispatch” is the American version of “despatch.” This version is more popular, more commonly used, and regarded as the correct spelling of the word.

The origin of both words is also different. “Dispatch” came from the Italian word “dispacciare.” On the other hand, “despatch” was derives from the Spanish “despachar.”

“Despatch” as a word actually exists as a functioning term in the shipping industry. The term refers to a payment of a ship’s owner to a charter party if a certain shipment is late for delivery.
“Dispatch,” as the more popular term, is tbe more widely accepted spelling of the word. Many editors and computers often regard the word “despatch” not as an alternate word for “dispatch” but as a misspelling. “Despatch” is not an acceptable variation of the word, yet premier British dictionaries like the Oxford Dictionary accept both variations of the words as correct.


  1. Both “despatch” and “dispatch” have the same meaning and almost the same sound. Both terms function as a noun and a verb (transitive verb, to be exact).  “Despatch” and “dispatch” can refer to the object or the act of sending or killing.
  2. The main difference between the two terms is in their spelling. “Despatch” has the letter “e,” while “dispatch” contains the letter “i.” The difference in spelling originated in 1755 when a dictionary introduced the form of “des.” However, both variations are accepted by British standards. Meanwhile, “dispatch” is the acceptable spelling for people who use American English.
  3. The two terms have different origins but retain the same Latin root word. “Despatch” came from the Spanish “despachar,” while the Italian “dispacciare” formed the basis of the modern word of “dispatch.”
  4. “Despatch” is the British variant of the term. Conversely, “dispatch” is the American version, and it retains the standard form used since the 1500s.
  5. “Despatch” is becoming rare as an alternate spelling for “dispatch.” This is due to the popularity and wide usage of American English in many countries. The latter is the most accepted spelling of the term in modern usage.
  6. Aside from being used interchangeably with “dispatch,” “despatch” also functions as a term in the shipping industry. In this respect, “despatch” means a payment for a delayed shipment made by a ship’s owner to a charter party.

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  1. Interesting and subtle! A little typo here, though:

    On the other hand, “dispatch” came from the Spanish word “despachar.”
    (Should read “despatch”)

  2. The claim made here that ‘“despatch” is not an acceptable variation of the word, yet premier British dictionaries like the Oxford Dictionary accept both variations of the words as correct’ is clearly contradictory – and false.

    Leading British dictionaries _do_ accept ‘despatch’, and therefore ‘despatch’ _is_ an acceptable variation of the word in British English.

    • Absolutely! The clue is in the name of the language.. ENGLISH as in.. ENGLAND.

      Queens English will always be the true English, no matter how many words Americans try to alter.

      Don’t even get me started on Color or Defense!

  3. In all my time teaching English in UK schools, I have never once used despatch but I notice Americans do. I don’t really mind as a lot of English words are altered over time.

  4. The correct spelling of the word “despatch” is d-e-s-p-a-t-c-h.



  5. And, for our North American cousins;

    “Trump” is more correctly spelled “Wannabe Despot”.

    Or better still – the past tense “Wanted to be”….

    • Keep your snide and ideological, or in this case, IDIOTlogical, remarks to yourself. You represent an all too common trend of rudeness, uncouthness and general disrespect polluting American society. You are not alone because this trend to degeneracy has taken firm hold in the crass left-wing media, academia,
      and even politics!! Whatever happened to civility?

  6. Useful information to knowledge Aspirants

  7. The last time I checked, the English speaking world use the English Language and not ‘American English’. Surely therefore that includes the definitions applied to words according published documentation.
    There are a number of words spoken in the USA which grate on most people (or should that be mispronounced?)
    Aluminium becomes “Aluminum”
    Jaguar becomes “Jagwarr”
    Orgeano becomes “Oraganno”

    No, I’ll not be adopting other countries interpretations of the correctly defined and pronounced words.

  8. “Despatch” and “Dispatch” might sound similar, and you might be surprised that the two words also share the same meaning

    The above statement is incorrect

    Whereas the ‘American English’ has the same meaning the ‘English’ meanings are different.
    “Despatch” is to send something somewhere or to mail something somewhere.
    “Dispatch” is to End something or to Kill something

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