[ dih-strib-yoot ]
See synonyms for: distributedistributeddistributesdistributing on Thesaurus.com

verb (used with object),dis·trib·ut·ed, dis·trib·ut·ing.
  1. to divide and give out in shares; deal out; allot.

  2. to disperse through a space or over an area; spread; scatter.

  1. to promote, sell, and ship or deliver (an item or line of merchandise) to individual customers, especially in a specified region or area.

  2. to pass out or deliver (mail, newspapers, etc.) to intended recipients.

  3. to divide into distinct phases: The process was distributed into three stages.

  4. to divide into classes: These plants are distributed into 22 classes.

  5. Logic. to employ (a term) in a proposition so as to refer to all individuals denoted by the term.

  6. Physical Chemistry. to dissolve uniformly in a solvent consisting of layers of immiscible or partially miscible substances.

  7. Printing.

    • to roll out (ink) on the table to attain the proper consistency.

    • to return (type) to the proper place after printing.

Origin of distribute

First recorded in 1400–50; late Middle English, from Latin distribūtus, past participle of distribuere “to divide up”; see dis-1, tribute

synonym study For distribute

1. Distribute, dispense apply to giving out something. Distribute implies apportioned, individualized giving, especially of something that is definite or limited in amount or number: The prizes were distributed among ten winners. Dispense formerly implied indiscriminate, general, and liberal giving, especially of something that was more or less indefinite or unmeasured in amount: to dispense largess. It now applies chiefly to giving according to need or deserts, from an organized and official source: to dispense medicines and food to the victims.

Other words for distribute

Other words from distribute

  • dis·trib·ut·a·ble, adjective
  • pre·dis·trib·ute, verb (used with object), pre·dis·trib·ut·ed, pre·dis·trib·ut·ing.

Words Nearby distribute

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use distribute in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for distribute


/ (dɪˈstrɪbjuːt) /

  1. to give out in shares; dispense

  2. to hand out or deliver: to distribute handbills

  1. (often passive) to spread throughout a space or area: gulls are distributed along the west coast

  2. (often passive) to divide into classes or categories; classify: these books are distributed in four main categories

  3. printing to return (used type) to the correct positions in the type case

  4. logic to incorporate in a distributed term of a categorial proposition

  5. maths logic to expand an expression containing two operators in such a way that the precedence of the operators is changed; for example, distributing multiplication over addition in a (b + c) yields ab + ac

  6. obsolete to dispense (justice)

Origin of distribute

C15: from Latin distribuere from dis- 1 + tribuere to give

Derived forms of distribute

  • distributable, adjective

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012