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[dih-strib-yuh-tiv] /dɪˈstrɪb yə tɪv/
serving to distribute, assign, allot, or divide; characterized by or pertaining to distribution.
Grammar. referring to the members of a group individually, as the adjectives each and every.
Logic. (of a term) distributed in a given proposition.
  1. (of a binary operation) having the property that terms in an expression may be expanded in a particular way to form an equivalent expression, as a (b + c) = ab + ac.
  2. having reference to this property:
    distributive law for multiplication over addition.
  3. (of a lattice) having the property that for any three elements, the intersection of the first element with the union of the others is equal to the intersection of the first element with each of the others.
a distributive word or expression.
late Middle English
1425-75; late Middle English distributif < Middle French < Late Latin distribūtīvus (see distribute, -ive)
Related forms
distributively, adverb
distributiveness, noun
nondistributive, adjective
nondistributively, adverb
nondistributiveness, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for distributive
  • distributive versus procedural theories of fairness.
  • distributive activities, of course, were not restricted to the harbor.
  • It was an early industrial version of what is known today in the computer industry as distributive processing.
British Dictionary definitions for distributive


characterized by or relating to distribution
(grammar) referring separately to the individual people or items in a group, as the words each and every
(grammar) a distributive word
(maths) able to be distributed: multiplication is distributive over addition
Derived Forms
distributively, adverb
distributiveness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for distributive

mid-15c., from Middle French distributif, from Late Latin distributivus, from Latin distribut-, past participle stem of distribuere (see distribution). Related: Distributively.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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distributive in Science
Relating to the property of multiplication over division which states that applying multiplication to a set of quantities that are combined by addition yields the same result as applying multiplication to each quantity individually and then adding those results together. Thus 2 × (3 + 4) is equal to (2 × 3) + (2 × 4). See also associative, commutative.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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