Meaning of COMPLEMENTARY DISTRIBUTION in English

COMPLEMENTARY DISTRIBUTION

noun

: a distribution of a pair of speech sounds or a pair of linguistic forms such that the one is found only in environments where the other is not (as the unaspirated t of English stone and the aspirated t of English tone or English your occurring before a noun, yours in all other environments), especially when used as a basic prerequisite for the classification of nonidentical sounds as allophones of the same phoneme or for the classification of nonidentical linguistic forms as allomorphs of the same morpheme

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.