Definition of complementary distribution in English:

complementary distribution

Line breaks: com|ple|men¦tary dis¦tri|bu¦tion


[mass noun]
  • The occurrence of phenomena such as speech sounds in mutually exclusive contexts: bilabials were in complementary distribution with labiodentals
    More example sentences
    • Next, given the standard formulation of binding conditions A and B, it is predicted that anaphors and pronominals be in strict complementary distribution, that is, anaphors can occur only where pronominals cannot, and vice versa.
    • These two sounds do not occur in the same environment; they are in complementary distribution.
    • These lexical pairs tend to be in complementary distribution.

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