distribute


distribute
distribute, dispense, divide, deal, dole are comparable when they mean to give out, usually in shares, to each member of a group.
Distribute implies either an apportioning among many by separation of something into parts, units, or amounts, and by assigning each part, unit, or amount to the proper person or place, or a scattering or spreading more or less evenly over an area
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distributed his possessions among his heirs

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distribute fertilizer by spreading or scattering it over a garden

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distribute profits among shareholders in the form of dividends

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distribute type by returning each piece of used type to its proper compartment in a case

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the old habit of centralizing a strain at one point, and then dividing and subdividing it, and distributing it on visible lines of support to a visible foundation— Henry Adams

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all modern societies aim ... to distribute impartially to all the burdens and advantages of the state— Dickinson

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Dispense (see also ADMINISTER 1) differs from distribute in not usually implying a spreading out that affects a large number or a separation that reduces the size or amount of each part or portion; rather, it suggests the giving of a carefully weighed or measured portion to each of a group as a right or as due, or as accordant to need
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dispense alms to the needy

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if every just man that now pines with want had but a moderate and beseeming share . . . nature's full blessings would be well-dispensedMilton

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let us . . . receive whatever good 'tis given thee to dispenseWordsworth

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a pulsating, metallic, fluorescent world, in which Olympian judgments are dispensed by worried word fanciers from their thirty-ninth floor cubicles— Hilton

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Divide (see also SEPARATE) stresses the separation of a whole into parts but it implies as the purpose of that separation a dispensing of those parts to, or a sharing of them by, each of a group; the term usually implies, if the context gives no further information, that the parts are equal
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the three partners divide the profits of the business, the size of each share depending on the size of the partner's investment

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claimed that his confederates would not divide the booty fairly

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of the rent, a large proportion was divided among the country gentlemen— Macaulay

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if, for example, he is an evildoer, it is a great comfort to him to know that others likewise are evildoers. Dividing the blame lightens the load— Overstreet

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Deal (usually followed by out) emphasizes the delivery of something piece by piece, or in suitable portions, especially to those who have a right to expect it
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deal the cards for a game of bridge

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deal out equipment and supplies to each soldier

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our fellows were very methodical about the death they were dealing out. They dispensed it in the firm, tranquil-seeming way of clerks— Wolfert

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Often, the term carries no suggestion of distribution, and means little more than to give or deliver
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1dealt his opponent a blow

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should employ one special man whose sole job is to keep inventing fresh phrases of delight to be dealt out in regular doses to authors at work— Dawson & Wilson

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Dole (also frequently followed by out) may imply a dispensing of alms to the needy
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dole out daily one thousand loaves of bread

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a prince doling out favors to a servile group of petitioners— Dreiser

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but since in this sense it usually suggests a carefully measured portion, it often suggests scantiness or niggardliness in the amount dispensed and does not necessarily suggest a charitable intent
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this comfort . . . she doled out to him in daily portions— Fielding

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I can accept what is given in love and affection to me, but I could not accept what is doled out grudgingly or with conditions — Wilde

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Analogous words: apportion, *allot, allocate, assign: ration, portion, parcel, prorate, *apportion: *administer, dispense
Antonyms: collect (supplies): amass (wealth, a fortune)
Contrasted words: *gather, assemble: *accumulate, hoard

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • distribute — dis·trib·ute /di stri byüt/ vt ut·ed, ut·ing 1: to divide among several or many: apportion 2: to give out or deliver esp. to members of a group see also dividend …   Law dictionary

  • distribute — dis‧trib‧ute [dɪˈstrɪbjuːt] verb [transitive] 1. MARKETING COMMERCE to make goods available to customers after they have been produced: • The new products will be sold under the Lipton brand and distributed by Pepsi. 2 …   Financial and business terms

  • Distribute — Dis*trib ute, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Distributed}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Distributing}.] [L. distributus, p. p. of distribuere to divide, distribute; dis + tribuere to assign, give, allot. See {Tribute}.] 1. To divide among several or many; to deal out; …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • distribute — [di strib′yo͞ot, di strib′yoot] vt. distributed, distributing [ME distributen < L distributus, pp. of distribuere, to distribute < dis , apart + tribuere, to allot: see TRIBUTE] 1. to divide and give out in shares; allot 2. to scatter or… …   English World dictionary

  • distribute — (v.) early 15c., to deal out or apportion, from L. distributus, pp. of distribuere to divide, distribute (see DISTRIBUTION (Cf. distribution)). Related: Distributable; distributed; distributing …   Etymology dictionary

  • distribute — [v1] allocate, deliver, spread administer, allot, apportion, appropriate, assign, bestow, circulate, consign, convey, cut up, deal, deal out, diffuse, disburse, dish out*, dispense, disperse, dispose, disseminate, divide, divvy up*, dole out*,… …   New thesaurus

  • Distribute — Dis*trib ute, v. i. To make distribution. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • distribute — To sort mail in order to group pieces according to a plan or scheme …   Glossary of postal terms

  • distribute — should be pronounced with the stress on the second syllable, although (as with contribute) pronunciation with stress on the first syllable is increasingly heard …   Modern English usage

  • distribute — ► VERB 1) hand or share out to a number of recipients. 2) (be distributed) be spread over an area. 3) supply (goods) to retailers. DERIVATIVES distributable adjective. ORIGIN Latin distribuere divide up …   English terms dictionary


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