from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • intransitive verb To divide and dispense in portions.
  • intransitive verb To supply (goods) to retailers.
  • intransitive verb To deliver or pass out.
  • intransitive verb To place in separate pieces or examples over an area; scatter.
  • intransitive verb To apportion so as to be evenly spread throughout a given area.
  • intransitive verb To separate into categories; classify.
  • intransitive verb Logic To use (a term) so as to include all individuals or entities of a given class.
  • intransitive verb Mathematics To be distributive. If a × (b + c) = a × b + a × c, then × distributes over +.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To divide or parcel out; allot in shares; bestow in parts or shares, or in due proportion; apportion; divide among several: as, Moses distributed lands to the tribes of Israel; Christ distributed the loaves to his disciples; to distribute justice.
  • To separate and put in place or order; arrange by classification or location: as, to distribute printing-types into their respective boxes (see II., 2); to distribute animals into classes, orders, genera, and species; to distribute the books in a library according to their subjects.
  • To spread; scatter; disperse.
  • To spread out; cover a surface or fill a space with: as, to distribute ink (that is, spread it evenly and smoothly) on printing-rollers; to distribute manure over a field; to distribute heat in a building.
  • In logic, to employ in its full extent, as a term
  • Synonyms Apportion, Allot, Assign (see dispense); partition, portion out.
  • To classify, arrange, sort, assort, dispose.
  • To make distribution; exercise charity.
  • In printing, to put dead matter (that, is, composed types that are no longer needed for printing) into the cases, by holding a quantity of it upright in the left hand on a support, and throwing the sepa rate types from a number taken between the thumb and first and second fingers of the right hand into their proper boxes; to “throw in”: as, he distributes rapidly.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To make distribution.
  • transitive verb To divide among several or many; to deal out; to apportion; to allot.
  • transitive verb To dispense; to administer.
  • transitive verb To divide or separate, as into classes, orders, kinds, or species; to classify; to assort, as specimens, letters, etc.
  • transitive verb To separate (type which has been used) and return it to the proper boxes in the cases.
  • transitive verb To spread (ink) evenly, as upon a roller or a table.
  • transitive verb (Logic) To employ (a term) in its whole extent; to take as universal in one premise.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • verb transitive To divide into portions and dispense.
  • verb transitive To supply to retail outlets.
  • verb transitive To deliver or pass out.
  • verb transitive To scatter or spread.
  • verb transitive To apportion (more or less evenly).
  • verb transitive To classify or separate into categories.
  • verb intransitive, mathematics To be distributive.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb administer or bestow, as in small portions
  • verb distribute or disperse widely
  • verb spread throughout a given area
  • verb make available
  • verb cause to become widely known
  • verb be distributed or spread, as in statistical analyses
  • verb cause be distributed
  • verb be mathematically distributive
  • verb to arrange in a systematic order
  • verb give to several people


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English distributen, from Latin distribuere, distribūt- : dis-, apart; see dis– + tribuere, to give; see tribute.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin distributus, past participle of distribuere ("to divide, distribute"), from dis- ("apart") + tribuere ("to give, impart"); see tribute.


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  • The chief distributed the land to his people.

    March 30, 2007