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v. dis·trib·ut·ed, dis·trib·ut·ing, dis·trib·utes
1. To divide and dispense in portions.
a. To supply (goods) to retailers.
b. To deliver or pass out: distributing handbills on the street.
a. To place in separate pieces or examples over an area; scatter: distribute grass seed over the lawn.
b. To apportion so as to be evenly spread throughout a given area: 180 pounds of muscle that were well distributed over his 6-foot frame.
4. To separate into categories; classify.
5. Logic To use (a term) so as to include all individuals or entities of a given class.
Mathematics To be distributive. If a × (b + c) = a × b + a × c, then × distributes over +.

[Middle English distributen, from Latin distribuere, distribūt- : dis-, apart; see dis- + tribuere, to give; see tribute.]
Synonyms: distribute, apportion, divide, dispense, dole1, deal1, ration
These verbs mean to give out in portions or shares. Distribute is the least specific: The government distributed land to settlers.
Apportion and divide imply giving out portions, often equal, on the basis of a plan or purpose: The funds were apportioned to each school district. The estate will be divided among the heirs.
Dispense stresses the careful determination of portions, often according to measurement or weight: The pharmacist dispensed the medication.
Dole, often followed by out, implies careful, usually sparing measurement of portions. It can refer to the distribution of charity: The city doled out surplus milk to the needy.
Deal implies orderly, equitable distribution, often piece by piece: I dealt five cards to each player.
Ration refers to equitable division in limited portions of scarce, often necessary, items: The government rationed fuel during the war.
References in classic literature ?
Beth was postmistress, for, being most at home, she could attend to it regularly, and dearly liked the daily task of unlocking the little door and distributing the mail.
Morning and evening he drove about in his spring wagon, distributing freshly ironed clothes, and collecting bags of linen that cried out for his suds and sunny drying-lines.
A milkman was distributing the contents of his cans from door to door; and the harsh peal of a fisherman's conch shell was heard far off, around the corner.
He did not make any speeches--there were lawyers and other experts for that--but he helped to manage things; distributing notices and posting placards and bringing out the crowds; and when the show was on he attended to the fireworks and the beer.
And George and Tom moved to a comfortable seat in the chimney-corner, while Aunte Chloe, after baking a goodly pile of cakes, took her baby on her lap, and began alternately filling its mouth and her own, and distributing to Mose and Pete, who seemed rather to prefer eating theirs as they rolled about on the floor under the table, tickling each other, and occasionally pulling the baby's toes.
There will be no employment for anyone except in doing things that must be done on the spot, such as unpacking and distributing the imports, ministering to the proprietors as domestic servants, or by acting, preaching, paving, lighting, housebuilding, and the rest; and some of these, as the capitalist comes to regard ostentation as vulgar, and to enjoy a simpler life, will employ fewer and fewer people.
The vestries were indiscriminately distributing bread sent us by the French government.
Having seen Jacopo fairly out of the harbor, Dantes proceeded to make his final adieus on board The Young Amelia, distributing so liberal a gratuity among her crew as to secure for him the good wishes of all, and expressions of cordial interest in all that concerned him.
Raoul, on foot, for he had not time to mount his horse again, tired, like the guards, of distributing blows with the flat of his sword, had recourse to its point.
Oliver that he would never have anything to do with distributing the stamps.
The reader will recollect that, on distributing his forces when in Green River Valley, Captain Bonneville had detached a party, headed by a leader of the name of Matthieu, with all the weak and disabled horses, to sojourn about Bear River, meet the Shoshonie bands, and afterward to rejoin him at his winter camp on Salmon River.
This last addition to my stock caused a considerable protuberance in front, which I abated in a measure by shaking the bits of bread around my waist, and distributing the plugs of tobacco among the folds of the garment.