1. The process of distributing or the condition of being distributed, especially:
a. The process of marketing and supplying goods, especially to retailers.
b. Law The transmission of inherited property to its heirs after taxes, debts, and costs of the estate have been paid.
2. Something distributed; an allotment: distributions from a retirement account.
3. A spatial or temporal array of objects or events, especially:
a. The geographic occurrence or range of an organism.
b. The geographic occurrence or range of a custom, usage, or other feature.
4. Statistics A characterization of the occurrence of the actual unique values in a set of data (as in a frequency distribution) or of the theoretical unique values of a random variable (as in a probability distribution).
5. Mathematics A generalized function used in the study of partial differential equations.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.