dis·tri·bu·tion | \ˌdis-trə-ˈbyü-shən \

Definition of distribution 

1a : the act or process of distributing the distribution of leaflets profit distribution the distribution of weight

b law : the act or process of apportioning by a court the personal property of an intestate

2a : the position, arrangement, or frequency of occurrence (as of the members of a group) over an area or throughout a space or unit of time the distribution of the country's population

b biology : the natural geographic range of an organism

3a : something distributed charitable distributions : such as

(1) : a sum of money withdrawn from a fund (such as a retirement fund) and given to the beneficiary (see beneficiary sense 2b) or holder of the fund

(2) : dividend sense 1a

b mathematics

4 anatomy : the pattern of branching and termination (see termination sense 4) of a ramifying structure (such as a nerve)

5 business : the marketing or merchandising of commodities keeping track of distribution costs

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from distribution

distributional \-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl \ adjective

Examples of distribution in a Sentence

The group collects food and clothing for distribution to needy families. The distribution of paychecks will happen every other Friday. The university does not permit distribution of leaflets on campus. She was responsible for product distribution. The company handles the distribution of goods to stores nationwide. He complained that the distribution of work was unfair. He studies the distributions of wildcats in North America. The new design provides better weight distribution.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

At this year’s Sundance Film Festival, the movie took home the event’s top honor, the U.S. Grand Jury Prize, before being sold to FilmRise for distribution. Stephen Daw, Billboard, "Chloe Grace Moretz Rebels Through Conversion Therapy in 'The Miseducation of Cameron Post' Trailer," 10 July 2018 Although much is still being learned about its spread, movement of live CWD-positive animals or of carcasses containing the infectious prions are considered the leading means for long-distance distribution of the disease. Paul A. Smith, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Baiting and feeding bans initiated due to CWD-positive deer farm in Marinette County," 6 July 2018 For example, the Gates Foundation has paid for distribution of expensive HIV drugs into impoverished countries that need them. Bradley J. Fikes, sandiegouniontribune.com, "UCSD steps up fight against tropical parasitical diseases," 4 July 2018 Back then, Microsoft intended to produce a range of original live-action TV shows for distribution through the Xbox One, and Steven Spielberg's name and Amblin production company were attached to the Halo project. Peter Bright, Ars Technica, "Halo TV show going into production in early 2019," 28 June 2018 One got arrested for being in a car with a gun and one got arrested for cocaine distribution. Shandel Richardson, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Miami Hurricanes basketball coaches, current and former pro athletes host mentor session on campus," 22 June 2018 Further studies show that the law caused a $10 million loss to the industry, primarily shouldered by smaller publishers that relied on the tech giants for distribution. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "EU Toys With Blowing Up the Internet as We Know It," 20 June 2018 Jones knew the group was responsible for the distribution of at least one kilogram of heroin, five kilograms of cocaine, 280 grams of crack cocaine, and marijuana, the office said. Jessica Anderson, baltimoresun.com, "Cherry Hill 'Up Da Hill' gang member convicted in federal court Tuesday," 19 June 2018 At the close of the business day on July 13, more than 607 million had been reserved for eventual distribution. Gideon Lewis-kraus, WIRED, "The Blockchain: A Love Story—And a Horror Story," 18 June 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of distribution

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about distribution

Share distribution

Statistics for distribution

Last Updated

13 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for distribution

The first known use of distribution was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for distribution



English Language Learners Definition of distribution

: the act of giving or delivering something to people

: the act of delivering something to a store or business

: the way that something is divided or spread out


dis·tri·bu·tion | \ˌdi-strə-ˈbyü-shən \

Kids Definition of distribution

1 : the act of giving out or delivering to

2 : the way things are divided or spread out She studies the distribution of wildcats in the area.

3 : something given out or delivered to or divided among


dis·tri·bu·tion | \ˌdis-trə-ˈbyü-shən \

Medical Definition of distribution 

: the pattern of branching and termination of a ramifying anatomical structure (as a nerve or artery)

Keep scrolling for more


dis·tri·bu·tion | \ˌdis-trə-ˈbyü-shən \

Legal Definition of distribution 

1 : the act or process of distributing: as

a : the apportionment by a court of the property and especially personal property of an intestate among those entitled to it according to statute — compare descent, devise

Note: The laws dealing with intestate succession are often called laws of descent and distribution.

b : the payment or transfer to a beneficiary of interest to which he or she is entitled under a trust

c : the transfer by a corporation or mutual fund of money or property to a shareholder in his or her capacity as a shareholder

d : the initial offering to the public of a security by a corporation

e : the delivery of a controlled substance

2 : something distributed

Other Words from distribution

distributive \di-ˈstri-byu̇-tiv \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on distribution

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


one that holds something together

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!