From The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48 [gcide]:
2. That which is dispensed, dealt out, or appointed; that which is enjoined or bestowed; especially (Theol.), A system of principles, promises, and rules ordained and administered; scheme; economy; as, the Patriarchal, Mosaic, and Christian dispensations.
3. The relaxation of a law in a particular case; permission to do something forbidden, or to omit doing something enjoined; specifically, in the Roman Catholic Church, exemption from some ecclesiastical law or obligation to God which a man has incurred of his own free will (oaths, vows, etc.).
From WordNet (r) 3.0 (2006) [wn]:
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