as·​cribe ə-ˈskrīb How to pronounce ascribe (audio)
ascribed; ascribing

transitive verb

: to refer to a supposed cause, source, or author : to say or think that (something) is caused by, comes from, or is associated with a particular person or thing
These poems are usually ascribed to Homer.
They ascribe most of their success to good timing and good luck.
She ascribes no importance to having a lot of money.
ascribable adjective
Choose the Right Synonym for ascribe

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

Examples of ascribe in a Sentence

ascribed their stunning military victory to good intelligence beforehand
Recent Examples on the Web Most of these items lack an imprint and were only ascribed to Franklin, or Franklin and Hall (that is, David Hall, Franklin’s business partner starting around 1748), by the meticulous study of account books and ledgers by Franklin’s pre-eminent bibliographer, C. William Miller. Adam Smyth, Smithsonian Magazine, 16 May 2024 Greenhalgh’s script doesn’t seem at all interested in understanding Winehouse psychologically, instead ascribing all her woes to her toxic co-dependent relationship with Fielder-Civil. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, 15 May 2024 Legends ascribe the dish to a chef of one of these households, a man named Angelino (a dialect translation of Angelot) who was asked to prepare a celebratory meal after the family fended off an attack on their castle. Dawn Davis Sharon Radisch Soneela Nankani Emma Kehlbeck Joel Thibodeau, New York Times, 13 May 2024 The history of this superstition may go back to the ancient Greeks and Romans, who ascribed mysterious powers to reflected images. James L. Fitzsimmons, The Conversation, 1 May 2024 And to many, the kinds of symptoms ascribed to bird flu infection may not seem particularly urgent. Emily Anthes, New York Times, 9 May 2024 Either way, observers have interpreted these accounts as unsettling glimpses of a future in which men and women ascribe personalities to artificially intelligent war machines. IEEE Spectrum, 27 Apr. 2024 Russia has not yet begun major deliveries of modern weapons to Iran, which experts variously ascribed to the demands of the Ukraine war on Russian military industry and Iran’s failure to make payment. Fred Weir, The Christian Science Monitor, 24 Apr. 2024 In the 21st century, choosing products that damage the planet can no longer be ascribed to ignorance but to conscious unethical behavior. Chris Gallagher, USA TODAY, 18 Apr. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'ascribe.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, from Latin ascribere, from ad- + scribere to write — more at scribe

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ascribe was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near ascribe

Cite this Entry

“Ascribe.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2024.

Kids Definition


as·​cribe ə-ˈskrīb How to pronounce ascribe (audio)
ascribed; ascribing
: to think of as coming from a specified cause, source, or author
a statement ascribed to Plato
ascribable adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on ascribe

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