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The meaning and origin of the expression: On the dole

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On the dole

Meaning

Unemployed and in receipt of state benefit.

Origin

In the UK, Unemployment Benefit has been known by the slang term 'the dole' since WWI. This derives from the 'doling out', that is, 'handing out' of charitable gifts of food or money. This dates back to at least 1919, when it was recorded in The Daily Mail:

"You won't draw your out-of-work dole of 29s. this week."