Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun trib·ute \ˈtri-(ˌ)byüt, -byət\

Simple Definition of tribute

  • : something that you say, give, or do to show respect or affection for someone

  • : something that proves the good quality or effectiveness of something

  • : money or goods that a ruler or country gives to another ruler or country especially for protection

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of tribute

  1. 1a :  a payment by one ruler or nation to another in acknowledgment of submission or as the price of protection; also :  the tax levied for such a paymentb (1) :  an excessive tax, rental, or tariff imposed by a government, sovereign, lord, or landlord (2) :  an exorbitant charge levied by a person or group having the power of coercionc :  the liability to pay tribute

  2. 2a :  something given or contributed voluntarily as due or deserved; especially :  a gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection <a floral tribute>b :  something (as material evidence or a formal attestation) that indicates the worth, virtue, or effectiveness of the one in question <the design is a tribute to his ingenuity>

Examples of tribute in a sentence

  1. The concert was a tribute to the musician.

  2. Yellow ribbons were tied on trees as a tribute to the soldiers at war.

  3. an event at which artists and musicians paid tribute to the famous composer

  4. The country was forced to pay tribute.

  5. The ruler paid a tribute every year.

Origin of tribute

Middle English tribut, from Latin tributum, from neuter of tributus, past participle of tribuere to allot, bestow, grant, pay, from tribus tribe

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of tribute

encomium, eulogy, panegyric, tribute, citation mean a formal expression of praise. encomium implies enthusiasm and warmth in praising a person or a thing <received encomiums from literary critics>. eulogy applies to a prepared speech or writing extolling the virtues and services of a person <delivered the eulogy at the funeral service>. panegyric suggests an elaborate often poetic compliment <her lyrical memoir was a panegyric to her mentor>. tribute implies deeply felt praise conveyed either through words or through a significant act <the concert was a musical tribute to the early jazz masters>. citation applies to the formal praise of a person offered in a military dispatch or in awarding an honorary degree <earned a citation for bravery>.

TRIBUTE Defined for Kids


noun trib·ute \ˈtri-byüt\

Definition of tribute for Students

  1. 1 :  something done, said, or given to show respect, gratitude, or affection

  2. 2 :  a payment made by one ruler or state to another especially to gain peace

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up tribute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to manage or play awkwardly

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

reduce soothe perplex disapprove
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.