distribute

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

Definition of distribute

distributed; distributing
transitive verb
1 :to divide among several or many :apportion
  • distribute expenses
  • distributes toys to needy children
2 a :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."
3 a :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 3a)
  • Addition is not distributed over multiplication.
intransitive verb
mathematics :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

Recent Examples of distribute from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of distribute

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

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 English Language Learners

distribute

verb

Definition of distribute for English Language Learners

  • : to give or deliver (something) to people

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

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


DISTRIBUTE Defined for Kids

distribute

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

Definition of distribute for Students

distributed; distributing
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.

Law Dictionary

distribute

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

legal Definition of distribute

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


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