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verb dis·trib·ute \di-ˈstri-byüt also -byət British also ˈdis-tri-ˌbyüt\

Simple Definition of distribute

  • : to give or deliver (something) to people

  • : to deliver (something) to a store or business

  • : to divide (something) among the members of a group

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of distribute


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to divide among several or many :  apportion <distribute expenses>

  3. 2 a :  to spread out so as to cover something :  scatter b :  to give out or deliver especially to members of a group <distribute newspapers> <distribute leaflets> c :  to place or position so as to be properly apportioned over or throughout an area <200 pounds distributed on a 6-foot frame> d :  to use (a term) so as to convey information about every member of the class named <the proposition “all men are mortal” distributes “man” but not “mortal”>

  4. 3 a :  to divide or separate especially into kinds b :  to return the units of (as typeset matter) to storage

  5. 4 :  to use in or as an operation so as to be mathematically distributive

  6. intransitive verb
  7. :  to be mathematically distributive <multiplication distributes over addition>

distributee play \dis-ˌtri-byü-ˈtē\ noun

Examples of distribute in a sentence

  1. <distribute the assignments according to seniority>

  2. <committed to distributing the school's limited scholarship money so that it benefits more students>

Origin of distribute

Middle English, from Latin distributus, past participle of distribuere, from dis- + tribuere to allot — more at tribute

First Known Use: 15th century

Synonym Discussion of distribute

distribute, dispense, divide, deal, dole out mean to give out, usually in shares, to each member of a group. distribute implies an apportioning by separation of something into parts, units, or amounts <distributed food to the needy>. dispense suggests the giving of a carefully weighed or measured portion to each of a group according to due or need <dispensed wisdom to the students>. divide stresses the separation of a whole into parts and implies that the parts are equal <three charitable groups divided the proceeds>. deal emphasizes the allotment of something piece by piece <deal out equipment and supplies>. dole out implies a carefully measured portion of something that is often in short supply <doled out what little food there was>.

DISTRIBUTE Defined for Kids


verb dis·trib·ute \di-ˈstri-ˌbyüt, -byət\

Definition of distribute for Students


  1. 1 :  to give out to or deliver to <They distribute paychecks on Friday.>

  2. 2 :  to divide among many or several <The money was distributed among the poor.>

  3. 3 :  to spread out so as to cover something <Make sure the paint is distributed evenly.>

Law Dictionary


transitive verb dis·trib·ute \di-ˈstri-byüt\

Legal Definition of distribute


  1. 1 :  to divide among several or many :  apportion

  2. 2 :  to give out or deliver esp. to members of a group — see also dividend

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up distribute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a division or portion of a pool or whole

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