noun dis·tri·bu·tion \ ˌdis-trə-ˈbyü-shən \
Updated on: 18 Feb 2018

Definition of distribution

1 a : 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
2 a : 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
3 a : 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(1) : a sum of money withdrawn from a fund (such as a retirement fund) and given to the beneficiary (see beneficiary 2b) or holder of the fund
(2) : dividend 1a
b mathematics
4 anatomy : the pattern of branching and termination (see termination 4) of a ramifying structure (such as a nerve)
5 business : the marketing or merchandising of commodities
  • keeping track of distribution costs


play \-shnəl, -shə-nᵊl\ adjective

Examples of distribution in a Sentence

  1. The group collects food and clothing for distribution to needy families.

  2. The distribution of paychecks will happen every other Friday.

  3. The university does not permit distribution of leaflets on campus.

  4. She was responsible for product distribution.

  5. The company handles the distribution of goods to stores nationwide.

  6. He complained that the distribution of work was unfair.

  7. He studies the distributions of wildcats in North America.

  8. The new design provides better weight distribution.

Recent Examples of distribution from the Web

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.

First Known Use of distribution

14th century

DISTRIBUTION Defined for English Language Learners



Definition of distribution for English Language Learners

  • : 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

DISTRIBUTION Defined for Kids


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

Definition of distribution for Students

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

Medical Dictionary


noun 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)

Law Dictionary


noun 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


play \di-ˈstri-byu̇-tiv\ adjective

Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


having a quality expressive of sadness

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

February 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a-dog-in-snow-jumping-to-grab-a-heart-shaped-balloon-the-snow-and-heart-balloon-indicate-that-the-month-being-represented-is-april-and-the-dog-is-just-kinda-cute
  • Which is a synonym of sanguine?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

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!