Meaning of DISTRIBUTE in English


I. də̇ˈstribyət, -i(ˌ)byüt, also -_bə̇t; usu -d.+V; Brit often ˈdistriˌbyüt verb

( distributed -yəd.ə̇d, -yətə̇d ; distributed “ ; distributing -yəd.iŋ, -yətiŋ ; distributes -yəts, -yüts)

Etymology: Middle English distributen, from Latin distributus, past participle of distribuere, from dis- dis- (I) + tribuere to give, allot — more at tribute

transitive verb


a. : to divide among several or many : deal out : apportion especially to members of a group or over a period of time : allot

the American Relief Administration distributed nearly five million tons of foodstuffs — Current Biography

the problem of how to distribute taxes equitably among the various economic groups — Collier's Year Book

precipitation is not ample, but is distributed throughout the year — G.G.Weigend

b. : dispense , administer

distribute justice

lamented that the great fields of private law, where justice is distributed between man and man, should be left without a caretaker — B.N.Cardozo


a. : to spread out or scatter so as to cover a surface or a space

distributing the seed over the lawn

distributing the ink evenly over the print

also : to give out or deliver especially to the members of a group

distributing magazines to subscribers

the U.N. secretariat, which distributed a 125-page questionnaire to member governments — Current Biography

b. : to place or position usually so as to be properly apportioned over or throughout an area

the blood vessels distributed throughout the arm

he seems chunkier than the 175 pounds distributed over his five feet ten inches would indicate — W.B.Furlong

the various factories distributed throughout the city — American Guide Series: New Hampshire

a widely distributed company — Marquis James

our Indians are not evenly distributed — Juan Comas

c. logic : to use (a term) so as to convey information about every member of the class named

the proposition “all men are mortal” distributes a universal affirmative subject, here “man”, but does not distribute the predicate


a. : to divide or separate especially into classes, orders, kinds, or species : classify , assort

spend a good deal of time distributing his specimens into their proper classes


(1) : to separate the units of (as typeset matter or handset matrices) and return to the proper storage places

(2) of a keyboard slugcasting machine : to return (matrices) automatically to the proper magazine channels

4. : to market (a commodity) under a franchise in a particular area especially at wholesale

intransitive verb

: to make distribution : spread out


distribute , dispense , divide , deal , and dole can agree in meaning to give out, usually in shares, to each person or thing of a group of persons or things. distribute implies (1) an apportioning of something among many by separating it into parts, units, or amounts and assigning each part, etc., to its appropriate person or place or (2) a spreading or scattering of something more or less evenly over an area

distribute their possessions among their children

distribute profits among corporation members

distribute different size nails to their appropriate containers

distribute loam over a lawn

dispense carries no strong implication, as does distribute , of the lessening of a whole by subdivision or scattering but suggests a giving of a carefully weighed and measured portion as a right or due, or in answer to a need

dispense drugs to plague victims

the host is dispensing drinks — Agnes M. Miall

he liberally dispensed hospitality to all … with whom he came into contact — E.H.Collis

dispense justice

dispense charity

divide stresses the separation of a whole into parts in order to dispense to or share among each of a group, equality of shares usually being implied in default of other specification

divide a cake among 10 guests

divide profits evenly among themselves

divide the spoils of war

deal , usually with out, stresses a giving out piece by piece or in suitable portions

deal out the day's ration of water

deal out paper plates to the picnickers

dole , frequently with out, still often implies a dispensing of alms to the needy but more commonly now suggests merely a dispensing in scanty, usually niggardly, portions

mother collects the paychecks and doles out allowances to all hands — J.H.Fenton

there cannot be in this republic any class of human beings in practical subjection to another class, with power in the latter to dole out to the former just such privileges as they may choose to grant — O.K.Fraenkel

a prince doling out favors to a servile group of petitioners — Theodore Dreiser

II. transitive verb

: to use in or as an operation so as to be mathematically distributive

addition is not distributed over multiplication

intransitive verb

: to be mathematically distributive

multiplication distributes over addition

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