serving to distribute, assign, allot, or divide; characterized by or pertaining to distribution.
Grammar. referring to the members of a group individually, as the adjectives each and every.
Logic. (of a term) distributed in a given proposition.
  1. (of a binary operation) having the property that terms in an expression may be expanded in a particular way to form an equivalent expression, as a(b + c) = ab + ac.
  2. having reference to this property: distributive law for multiplication over addition.
  3. (of a lattice) having the property that for any three elements, the intersection of the first element with the union of the others is equal to the intersection of the first element with each of the others.


a distributive word or expression.

Origin of distributive

1425–75; late Middle English distributif < Middle French < Late Latin distribūtīvus (see distribute, -ive)
Related formsdis·trib·u·tive·ly, adverbdis·trib·u·tive·ness, nounnon·dis·trib·u·tive, adjectivenon·dis·trib·u·tive·ly, adverbnon·dis·trib·u·tive·ness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for distributive

Contemporary Examples of distributive

Historical Examples of distributive

British Dictionary definitions for distributive



characterized by or relating to distribution
grammar referring separately to the individual people or items in a group, as the words each and every


grammar a distributive word
maths able to be distributed:multiplication is distributive over addition
Derived Formsdistributively, adverbdistributiveness, noun
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

Word Origin and History for distributive

mid-15c., from Middle French distributif, from Late Latin distributivus, from Latin distribut-, past participle stem of distribuere (see distribution). Related: Distributively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Science definitions for distributive



Relating to the property of multiplication over division which states that applying multiplication to a set of quantities that are combined by addition yields the same result as applying multiplication to each quantity individually and then adding those results together. Thus 2 X (3 + 4) is equal to (2 X 3) + (2 X 4). See also associative commutative.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.