verb \di-ˈstri-byüt also -byət British also ˈdis-tri-ˌbyüt\

: to give or deliver (something) to people

: to deliver (something) to a store or business

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


Full Definition of DISTRIBUTE

transitive verb
:  to divide among several or many :  apportion <distribute expenses>
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”>
a :  to divide or separate especially into kinds
b :  to return the units of (as typeset matter) to storage
:  to use in or as an operation so as to be mathematically distributive
intransitive verb
:  to be mathematically distributive <multiplication distributes over addition>
dis·trib·u·tee \dis-ˌtri-byü-ˈtē\ noun

Examples of DISTRIBUTE

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


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>.


Next Word in the Dictionary: distributed
Previous Word in the Dictionary: distributary
All Words Near: distribute

Seen & Heard

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

Get Our Free Apps
Voice Search, Favorites,
Word of the Day, and More
Join Us on FB & Twitter
Get the Word of the Day and More