The action of sharing something out among a number of recipients.
Dividends and capital appreciation are the two main types of income payable to shareholders of stocks. Dividend distributions come primarily from the interest and dividends earned by the securities in a fund’s portfolio, if any, after expenses are paid by the fund. Capital appreciation distributions represent a fund’s net gains, if any, from the sale of securities held in its portfolio.
Total return is the change in value of an investment over a given period, assuming reinvestment of any dividends and capital gain distributions, expressed as a percentage of the initial investment. 
Distribute-tribute-tribe. Distributions are the tribute paid in proportions, to the tribe of shareholders.
14c from distribution 13c "a division, distribution, deal out in portions, from dis- "individually" + tribuere "assign, allot.”  14c tribute., "tax paid to a ruler or master for security or protection, a thing contributed or paid, to pay, assign, grant," also "allot among the tribes or to a tribe," from tribus (see tribe). Sense of "offering, gift, token" is first recorded 1580s.  13c tribe one of the twelve divisions of the ancient Hebrews, perhaps from tri- "three" + *bhu-, root of the verb be. Town, inhabited place, race or tribe of men, body of men united by ties of blood and descent, a clan. 
Sumflow 22:52, October 29, 2010 (PDT)