what is the difference between supplying X with Y and allocating X to Y?

Can anyone give explain with examples?

  • You supply goods or equipment to people (make them available). You allocate the goods to the particular people who need them, or for a particular purpose. Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 8:20
  • To allocate is merely to assign; to supply is to actually deliver. Which dictionaries are you using, that didn't explain that? Commented May 2, 2020 at 20:45
  • @RobbieGoodwin I used dictionary.cambridge.org. I do research on plant science, where people interchangeably use allocate and supply. Not everyone is a native English speaker! Commented May 4, 2020 at 8:19
  • Thanks, Kathiravan. When you do research where people use "allocate" and "supply" interchangeably, how does that make them correct? Why would you be Asking, unless you doubted them? Did you notice, much of the point is "not everyone is a native English speaker"? Commented May 4, 2020 at 18:31

2 Answers 2


Extending Kate Bunting's comment above:

Electrical power is supplied by underground cables. (is made available to everybody)

The government is allocating £10 million for health education. (a particular sum by a particular institution for a particular purpose)

  • supply = provide with; give, etc.; allocate = reserve for a purpose, like allocation in the budget, etc.
    – Ram Pillai
    Commented Mar 21, 2020 at 17:13
  • 1
    Wholly true, Shogun, and how does that explain the difference? Commented May 4, 2020 at 18:25

To me the biggest difference is: supply is to give, and be made available, while allocate is to distribute.

The volunteers supplied food for the shelter.

The agency will allocate a million dollars too victims of the hurricane.

  • 2
    "Allocate" definitely does not mean "distribute".
    – Hot Licks
    Commented May 24, 2020 at 23:34

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