dis·​trib·​ute | \ di-ˈstri-byüt How to pronounce distribute (audio) also -byət How to pronounce distribute (audio) , British also ˈdi-stri-ˌbyüt \
distributed; distributing

Definition of distribute

transitive verb

1 : to divide among several or many : apportion distribute expenses distributes toys to needy children
2a : to spread out so as to cover something : scatter evenly distribute the seeds
b : to give out or deliver especially to members of a group distribute newspapers distribute leaflets distribute a TV show to local stations
c : to place or position so as to be properly apportioned over or throughout an area 200 pounds distributed on a 6-foot frame distribute the frosting around the top and sides of the cake
d logic : 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."
3a : to divide or separate especially into kinds distributing specimens into their proper classes
b : to return the units of (something, such as typeset matter) to storage
4 mathematics : to use in or as an operation so as to be mathematically distributive (see distributive sense 3a) Addition is not distributed over multiplication.

intransitive verb

mathematics : to be mathematically distributive multiplication distributes over addition

Other Words from distribute

distributee \ dis-​ˌtri-​byü-​ˈtē How to pronounce distribute (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of distribute in a Sentence

distribute the assignments according to seniority committed to distributing the school's limited scholarship money so that it benefits more students
Recent Examples on the Web Chad Williamson, 42, of Fitzgerald, pleaded guilty to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute on Sept. 8, the office announced in a Sept. 13 news release. Julia Marnin The Charlotte Observer (tns), al, 13 Sep. 2022 Hull and McCarthy were both charged with two counts of possession with intent to distribute, including fentanyl and meth, and possession of a firearm with controlled and dangerous substances, the sheriff's office statement said. Marlene Lenthang, NBC News, 8 Sep. 2022 Dones pleaded guilty to conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute, and distribution, of fentanyl and unlawful possession of a firearm by a felon in March, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s Office. Hartford Courant, 2 Sep. 2022 Jerrel Greene-Martin, 23, of Roxbury, is charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, trafficking in more than 10 grams of fentanyl, and resisting arrest, police said. Jeremy C. Fox, BostonGlobe.com, 26 Aug. 2022 In March, 27-year-old Kenton Maurice Haynes was found guilty of receipt of a firearm while under indictment, possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime, and possession with intent to distribute marijuana. Taylor Pettaway, San Antonio Express-News, 16 Aug. 2022 He is charged with trafficking methamphetamine and possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute related to the July discovery of the meth stash. Henri Hollis, ajc, 2 Aug. 2022 The men were charged with embezzlement and larceny with the intent to distribute. Justin Jouvenal, Washington Post, 20 July 2022 Salwan Adjaj, 43, pleaded guilty to distributing and possessing with intent to distribute controlled substances before U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman. oregonlive, 13 July 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'distribute.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of distribute

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for distribute

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

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Time Traveler for distribute

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The first known use of distribute was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

19 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Distribute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/distribute. Accessed 26 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for distribute


dis·​trib·​ute | \ di-ˈstri-ˌbyüt How to pronounce distribute (audio) , -byət \
distributed; distributing

Kids Definition of distribute

1 : to give out to or deliver to They distribute paychecks on Friday.
2 : to divide among many or several The money was distributed among the poor.
3 : to spread out so as to cover something Make sure the paint is distributed evenly.


transitive verb
dis·​trib·​ute | \ di-ˈstri-byüt How to pronounce distribute (audio) \
distributed; distributing

Legal Definition of distribute

1 : to divide among several or many : apportion
2 : to give out or deliver especially to members of a group — see also dividend

More from Merriam-Webster on distribute

Nglish: Translation of distribute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of distribute for Arabic Speakers


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