on the dole

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dole 1

1. The distribution by the government of relief payments to the unemployed.
2. A share of money, food, or clothing that has been charitably given: increasing the monthly dole given to poor families.
3. Archaic One's fate.
tr.v. doled, dol·ing, doles
To give out, especially in portions or shares; allot or distribute. Often used with out: The mayor doled out jobs to those who had supported him in the election. See Synonyms at distribute.
on the dole
Receiving regular relief payments from or as if from the government.

[Middle English dol, part, share, from Old English dāl; see dail- in Indo-European roots.]

dole 2

n. Archaic
Sorrow; grief; dolor.

[Middle English dol, from Old French dol, deul, from Late Latin dolus, from Latin dolēre, to feel pain, grieve.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Last night, Scots workers were furious when they heard the firm who dumped them on the dole were getting more Government hand-outs.
The "Bob Dole Story" on the Dole for President homepage on the Internet gives this account a slightly more heroic twist: "In the middle of heavy shelling, Lieutenant Dole saw his radioman go down.