Definition of distribute in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈdɪstrɪbjuːt//dɪˈstrɪbjuːt/


  • 1Give a share or a unit of (something) to each of a number of recipients.

    ‘information leaflets are being distributed to hotels’
    • ‘Sharing these views is what made the Internet in the first place; a medium to quickly share and distribute information.’
    • ‘As such, this publication is widely distributed to all units of Army.’
    • ‘It's just a good economic model, and it actually distributed wealth and shared in productivity better than the trickle down theory.’
    • ‘Usaid pays an aid organization to hire independent staffers, who then travel to the recipient country and distribute aid as they see fit.’
    • ‘The three villages, though separately ruled, worked together as a unit, sharing and distributing the resources they had at their disposal.’
    • ‘In the political sphere, the possibilities for political participation should be equally distributed.’
    • ‘Give a subordinate unit the task to distribute newsletters or flyers and use the remaining elements to provide security-be ready to fight.’
    • ‘The money will be distributed to individual schools which made bids for vital new facilities such as sports halls, fitness rooms and games pitches.’
    • ‘Therefore, employees who are let go before tips are distributed often lose their share of the allocation.’
    • ‘But the Grid goes beyond sharing and distributing data and computing resources.’
    • ‘Like all research labs, we needed to share disks, distribute processes, compile software and store and munge data.’
    • ‘A Camden Defend Council Housing broadsheet is being distributed to every flat.’
    • ‘As a subscriber to their newsletter and referrer of 3 subscribers, I got 8 shares when they distributed them.’
    • ‘It should be no surprise that in the long run the shares of growth are distributed equally across all income levels.’
    • ‘I have learned recently that in almost all cases, food is distributed to recipients prior to their doing any work.’
    • ‘However, many UK companies distribute share options to all employees, linked to monthly savings plans.’
    • ‘The program, Berklee Shares, encourages musicians to share and distribute these music lessons online.’
    • ‘There was no attempt to distribute the images or share them with others, he said.’
    • ‘Up to £90 per person was distributed to citizens who share the great man's birthday.’
    • ‘Fifty $1,000 scholarships are to be distributed each year to individuals seeking associate degrees in medical laboratory science.’
    circulate, issue
    give out, deal out, hand out, hand round, issue, dispense, administer, pass round, dole out, dispose of
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    1. 1.1Supply (goods) to retailers.
      ‘the journal is distributed worldwide’
      • ‘New labels will be distributed to retailers still wanting to sell the current version.’
      • ‘Besides these immediate clients, however, Lipchanka's goods are distributed under various brand names worldwide.’
      • ‘The series is being distributed by BBC Worldwide which could result in extensive international TV sales, merchandising and publishing spin-offs.’
      • ‘To start, two million cards will be distributed at retailers and through street teams hitting places where kids hang out.’
      • ‘The booklets will be distributed to producers, retailers, consumers and enforcement officers.’
      • ‘Charlie and Lola is produced by Tiger Aspect Productions and distributed by BBC Worldwide Ltd and © BBC 1996.’
      • ‘Iron is one of the most widely distributed of metals and has been used in ornamental work since prehistoric times.’
      • ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros.’
      • ‘The Li & Fung group has focused strongly on China where its privately held IDS Group can now sell and distribute goods in bulk to mainland retailers.’
      • ‘By distributing to larger news retailers such as Tesco, it can subsidise deliveries to smaller, more remote retailers, like corner shop or village newsagents.’
      • ‘An additional line, Farmer's All Natural Milk, is distributed in select retail outlets in the Front Range.’
      • ‘Hockaday also oversaw creation of Crown Media Holdings Inc., which operates and distributes the Hallmark Channel worldwide.’
      • ‘There are lots of people now employed in in big warehouses to distribute goods which would formerly have been distributed through retail outlets.’
      • ‘The goods were then distributed to major phone retailers, the ministry said.’
      • ‘In addition, 36 global dual-use licences allowed restricted goods to be distributed worldwide with a single licence.’
      • ‘The problem is not lack of supply, because nationwide we have more than enough energy production; the problem is how that supply is being distributed.’
      • ‘Cash donations also allow agencies to avoid the labor-intensive need to store, sort, pack and distribute donated goods.’
      • ‘The idea was to rationalize and redefine retailing by distributing goods in a cultivated manner: efficiently, honestly, and cleanly.’
      • ‘Posters of the former rider will be distributed while supplies last.’
      • ‘Chemical stains and polymer toppings are now being distributed through construction supply houses.’
    2. 1.2Printing Separate (metal type that has been set up) and return the characters to their separate compartments in a type case.
  • 2Occur throughout an area.

    ‘the birds are mainly distributed in marshes and river valleys’
    • ‘Muntjac deer (Muntiacinae, Cervidae) are distributed throughout Southeast Asia, South China, and India.’
    • ‘The yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae has an abundance of microsatellites that are distributed throughout its 16 chromosomes.’
    • ‘By the Late Cretaceous, species of Hoploparia were distributed throughout temperate and subarctic regions of both hemispheres.’
    • ‘The Yellow Wagtail is widely distributed throughout the Old World and has colonized Alaska in the New World.’
    • ‘A further 30 species were primarily confined to freshwater riparian areas distributed throughout the park.’
    • ‘The genus Cypripedium comprises 49 species, which are widely distributed throughout Northern America, Eastern Asia and Europe.’
    • ‘Microsatellite loci appear to be distributed throughout vertebrate genomes and can demonstrate high levels of intraspecific allelic polymorphism.’
    • ‘A climbing fern Lygodium japonicum is classified into the Filicales and is distributed throughout the warm temperate areas in Japan.’
    • ‘Quinolones are widely distributed throughout the body.’
    • ‘Tuco-tucos belong to the family Octodontidae and are distributed throughout the southern cone of South America with more than 56 described species.’
    • ‘The fat was distributed delicately yet densely throughout the meat, looking almost like snow.’
    • ‘Rickettsial diseases are vector-borne illnesses usually carried by ticks, lice, fleas, or mites, and are widely distributed throughout the world.’
    • ‘Cytosolic GS was found to be distributed throughout the root with apparent homogeneity within the epidermis, exodermis, cortex, and central cylinder.’
    disperse, diffuse, disseminate, scatter, spread, strew
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    1. 2.1Spread (a load) over an area.
      ‘the seat is designed to ensure the weight of the passenger is evenly distributed’
      • ‘‘The work load gets evenly distributed through all semesters,’ she says.’
      • ‘This ensures that the laden fluid is evenly distributed around the casing and therefore enters the tuyeres from all directions.’
      • ‘The data were plotted on a semi-logarithmic scale, so that the histogram peaks from 2C to 32C were evenly distributed along the abscissa.’
      • ‘Most of your weight should be evenly distributed along the shins from the knees to the feet.’
      • ‘These people seemed to have their weight evenly distributed to all areas of their body, making them an all-around heavyweight.’
      • ‘Take the zaatar and massage it into the chicken, inside and out, making sure it also is evenly distributed.’
      • ‘Pressure is more evenly distributed in the remainder of the pulley system.’
      • ‘The system bears the maximum and evenly distributed load.’
      • ‘Your weight should be distributed about evenly across your two feet.’
      • ‘The load is transferred through the cross-bridges, which are evenly distributed along the thick filament.’
      • ‘The toes were all of equal length, allowing the body weight to be evenly distributed over them.’
      • ‘A simple way to reduce overloading is to ensure adequate number of electric points so that load is distributed evenly through different circuits.’
      • ‘Instead, the deformed shapes of these columns are more consistent with loads that were distributed over the height of the columns.’
      • ‘This graft fixation method enabled the force to be evenly distributed within each single graft strand.’
    2. 2.2Computing (of a computer system) spread over several machines, especially over a network.
      ‘a distributed system’
      • ‘According to Drummond, Google now operates the world's largest distributed computer system.’
      • ‘His main areas of interest are computer networks and distributed computing.’
      • ‘Was there some inherent technical reason why the system became a distributed network, rather than a military reason?’
      • ‘The Common ARTS system is a highly distributed, networked, multithreaded, real-time system.’
      • ‘A system of distributed network transtelephonic monitors is also described.’
  • 3Logic
    Use (a term) to include every individual of the class to which it refers.

    ‘the middle term must be distributed, at least once, in the premises’
    • ‘Failing to distribute the middle term over at least one of the other terms is the fallacy of undistributed middle.’


The word distribute is pronounced either with the stress on the -stri- or with the stress on the dis-. Until recently the latter, with the stress on the first syllable, was considered incorrect in standard British English, but now both pronunciations are standard


Late Middle English: from Latin distribut- divided up, from the verb distribuere, from dis- apart + tribuere assign.