[ dis-truh-byoo-shuhn ]
See synonyms for distribution on Thesaurus.com
  1. an act or instance of distributing.

  2. the state or manner of being distributed.

  1. arrangement; classification.

  2. something that is distributed.

  3. the frequency of occurrence or the natural geographic range or place where any item or category of items occurs: What is the distribution of coniferous forests in the world?

  4. placement, location, arrangement, or disposition: The distribution of our troops is a military secret.

  5. apportionment: The court decided the distribution of the property among the heirs.

  6. the delivery or giving out of an item or items to the intended recipients, as mail or newspapers.

  7. the total number of an item delivered, sold, or given out: The distribution of our school paper is now 800.

  8. the marketing, transporting, merchandising, and selling of any item.

  9. (in bridge and other card games) the way in which the suits of a deck of cards are, or one specific suit is, divided or apportioned in one player's hand or among the hands of all the players: My distribution was six spades, four hearts, two clubs, and a singleton diamond.

  10. Economics.

    • the division of the aggregate income of any society among its members, or among the factors of production.

    • the system of dispersing goods throughout a community.

  11. Statistics. a set of values or measurements of a set of elements, each measurement being associated with an element.

  12. Mathematics. a generalized function used especially in solving differential equations.

Origin of distribution

First recorded in 1375–1425; late Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin distribūtiōn-, stem of distribūtiō “division”; equivalent to distribute + -ion

Other words from distribution

  • dis·tri·bu·tion·al, adjective
  • mis·dis·tri·bu·tion, noun
  • non·dis·tri·bu·tion, noun
  • non·dis·tri·bu·tion·al, adjective
  • pre·dis·tri·bu·tion, noun
  • pro·dis·tri·bu·tion, adjective
  • su·per·dis·tri·bu·tion, noun

Words Nearby distribution

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

How to use distribution in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for distribution


/ (ˌdɪstrɪˈbjuːʃən) /

  1. the act of distributing or the state or manner of being distributed

  2. a thing or portion distributed

  1. arrangement or location

  2. commerce the process of physically satisfying the demand for goods and services

  3. economics the division of the total income of a community among its members, esp between labour incomes (wages and salaries) and property incomes (rents, interest, and dividends)

  4. statistics the set of possible values of a random variable, or points in a sample space, considered in terms of new theoretical or observed frequency: a normal distribution

  5. law the apportioning of the estate of a deceased intestate among the persons entitled to share in it

  6. law the lawful division of the assets of a bankrupt among his creditors

  7. finance

    • the division of part of a company's profit as a dividend to its shareholders

    • the amount paid by dividend in a particular distribution

  8. engineering the way in which the fuel-air mixture is supplied to each cylinder of a multicylinder internal-combustion engine

Derived forms of distribution

  • distributional, 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

Cultural definitions for distribution


The process of marketing and merchandising goods. Also, the way in which wealth or goods or services are allotted, as in the distribution of wealth.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.