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noun at·tri·bute \ˈa-trə-ˌbyüt\

Simple Definition of attribute

  • : a usually good quality or feature that someone or something has

Full Definition of attribute

  1. 1 :  an inherent characteristic; also :  an accidental quality

  2. 2 :  an object closely associated with or belonging to a specific person, thing, or office <a scepter is the attribute of power>; especially :  such an object used for identification in painting or sculpture

  3. 3 :  a word ascribing a quality; especially :  adjective

Examples of attribute

  1. The interviewer asked me what I consider to be my best attribute.

  2. Both candidates possess the attributes we want in a leader.

Origin of attribute

Middle English, from Latin attributus, past participle of attribuere to attribute, from ad- + tribuere to bestow — more at tribute

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of attribute

quality, property, character, attribute mean an intelligible feature by which a thing may be identified. quality is a general term applicable to any trait or characteristic whether individual or generic <material with a silky quality>. property implies a characteristic that belongs to a thing's essential nature and may be used to describe a type or species <the property of not conducting heat>. character applies to a peculiar and distinctive quality of a thing or a class <remarks of an unseemly character>. attribute implies a quality ascribed to a thing or a being <the attributes of a military hero>.



verb at·trib·ute \ə-ˈtri-ˌbyüt, -byət\

Definition of attribute


  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to explain by indicating a cause <attributed his success to his coach>

  3. 2 a :  to regard as a characteristic of a person or thing b :  to reckon as made or originated in an indicated fashion <attributed the invention to a Russian> c :  classify, designate

at·trib·ut·ableplay \-byü-tə-bəl, -byə-\ adjective

Examples of attribute

  1. <attributed the quick rescue to the well-trained police force>

  2. <a psychotherapist who's a little too quick to attribute every emotional problem or character defect to an unhappy childhood>


First Known Use of attribute


Synonym Discussion of attribute

ascribe, attribute, assign, impute, credit mean to lay something to the account of a person or thing. ascribe suggests an inferring or conjecturing of cause, quality, authorship <forged paintings formerly ascribed to masters>. attribute suggests less tentativeness than ascribe , less definiteness than assign <attributed to Rembrandt but possibly done by an associate>. assign implies ascribing with certainty or after deliberation <assigned the bones to the Cretaceous period>. impute suggests ascribing something that brings discredit by way of accusation or blame <tried to impute sinister motives to my actions>. credit implies ascribing a thing or especially an action to a person or other thing as its agent, source, or explanation <credited his teammates for his success>.

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February 7, 2016

a slight offense

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