attribute

noun
at·​tri·​bute | \ ˈa-trə-ˌbyüt How to pronounce attribute (audio) \

Definition of attribute

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a quality, character, or characteristic ascribed to someone or something has leadership attributes
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 grammar : a word ascribing a quality especially : adjective

attribute

verb
at·​trib·​ute | \ ə-ˈtri-ˌbyüt How to pronounce attribute (audio) , -byət \
attributed; attributing

Definition of attribute (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to explain (something) by indicating a cause He attributed his success to hard work.
2a : to regard as a characteristic of a person or thing should not attribute adult reasoning to children
b : to reckon as made or originated in an indicated fashion attributed the invention to a Russian

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Other Words from attribute

Verb

attributable \ ə-​ˈtri-​byü-​tə-​bəl How to pronounce attributable (audio) , -​byə-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for attribute

Noun

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

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

Did You Know?

Attribute means something rather similar to "pay tribute". So, for example, an award winner who pays tribute to an inspiring professor is, in a sense, attributing her success to the professor. Though if you attribute your fear of dogs to an incident in your childhood, you're not exactly praising the nasty dog that bit you way back when. The second sense of attribute is slightly different: If you attribute bad motives to a politician, it means you think he or she is doing things for the wrong reasons (even if you don't have any proof). When attribute is accented on its first syllable, it's being used as a noun, usually as a synonym for quality. So, for instance, you may believe that an even temper is an attribute of the best presidents, or that cheerfulness is your spouse's best attribute.

Examples of attribute in a Sentence

Noun The interviewer asked me what I consider to be my best attribute. Both candidates possess the attributes we want in a leader. Verb attributed the quick rescue to the well-trained police force a psychotherapist who's a little too quick to attribute every emotional problem or character defect to an unhappy childhood
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Zizic, whose best attribute is his ability to score around the rim, played in a career-low 22 games because of injuries and competition ahead of him. Cameron Fields, cleveland, "Ante Zizic couldn’t crack the rotation due to injuries and competition during 2019-20 season: Cleveland Cavaliers Season Review," 13 July 2020 Several travelers also pointed to location as a key attribute, noting that the property is a short walk from Central Park, among other marquee attractions. Sara Clemence, Travel + Leisure, "The Top 15 City Hotels in the Continental U.S.," 8 July 2020 If your priorities are snob appeal and playing one-upmanship down at the polo club, the price should be an attribute, not an obstacle. Tony Assenza, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1987 Range Rover Makes Luxury and SUV Compatible," 30 June 2020 As such, optimizing a car for low drag has become more important, first as regulators in Europe demanded more efficient cars, then more recently as range has become the most important attribute of a battery electric vehicle. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "How’s this for aerodynamic? The Lucid Air’s drag coefficient is only 0.21," 30 June 2020 The alternative is to continue to bestride both systems and accept the consequence that trust—arguably the most important attribute of a communication tool like Zoom—is at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party. The Economist, "Schumpeter Can Zoom be trusted with users’ secrets?," 20 June 2020 As an attribute, power is only meaningful in comparison. Alain Sylvain, Quartz at Work, "Collective action is our new power language. How will leaders respond?," 19 June 2020 Their most concerning attribute is their ability to carry diseases. Kaleb A. Brown, Detroit Free Press, "Mobile app takes aim at the bane of Michigan summers — ticks and Lyme disease," 17 June 2020 The Bee Gees share with ABBA the attribute of having been, for a long time, at once hugely popular and critically disdained—deemed frivolous by the gatekeepers of the popular-music canon; simply, too much fun. The Economist, "They win again The Bee Gees were more than great disco hitmakers," 29 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Experts attribute the alarming rise in cases in large part to states reopening from economic shutdowns and letting up on restrictions too soon. Julie Hinds, Detroit Free Press, "Will movie theaters reach a 'new normal' in 2020? 2021? Answer lies with COVID-19 pandemic, not studios," 31 July 2020 Doctors commonly attribute it to psychological, social or emotional stress, indicating tension could be peaking amid the pandemic. cleveland, "Yes, broken-heart syndrome is real - the Cleveland Clinic says COVID-19 is causing it: The Wake Up podcast," 10 July 2020 Experts attribute those gains to a few factors, including the fact that more white women are already in C-suite positions from which board members are typically recruited, and the broader cultural emphasis on gender equality. Lila Maclellan, Quartz at Work, "These are the biggest S&P 500 companies without a single Black board member," 7 July 2020 Those with a tendency for interpersonal victimhood were also more likely to attribute negative intentions on the part of the offender and were also more likely to feel a greater intensity and duration of negative emotions following a hurtful event. Scott Barry Kaufman, Scientific American, "Unraveling the Mindset of Victimhood," 29 June 2020 Experts attribute the recent increase to loosening lockdowns and Memorial Day festivities. NBC News, "COVID-19 cases in Florida and Texas are surging. Track the day-by-day numbers in these states.," 26 June 2020 And is the description accurate to attribute it to a Wisconsin youth camp brochure? Eric Litke, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Racist carnival game featured in 1942 Milwaukee YMCA brochure," 12 June 2020 When cases started climbing elsewhere in the state, officials continued to attribute the increase to the way that tests are reported, particularly at meatpacking plants and prisons. Lauren Hilgers, The New Yorker, "How Two Waves of Coronavirus Cases Swept Through the Texas Panhandle," 10 July 2020 The transcripts attribute slightly different statements to Chauvin, which came after Floyd said that the officers were going to kill him. Jordan Freiman, CBS News, "Derek Chauvin told George Floyd "it takes a heck of a lot of oxygen" to talk during fatal arrest, transcript shows," 9 July 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'attribute.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of attribute

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for attribute

Noun and Verb

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

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Time Traveler for attribute

Time Traveler

The first known use of attribute was in the 14th century

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Statistics for attribute

Last Updated

21 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Attribute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/attribute. Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for attribute

attribute

noun
How to pronounce attribute (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of attribute

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

attribute

noun
at·​tri·​bute | \ ˈa-trə-ˌbyüt How to pronounce attribute (audio) \

Kids Definition of attribute

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a quality belonging to a particular person or thing Patience is a good attribute for a teacher.

attribute

verb
at·​trib·​ute | \ ə-ˈtri-byət How to pronounce attribute (audio) \
attributed; attributing

Kids Definition of attribute (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : to explain as the cause of We attribute their success to hard work.
2 : to think of as likely to be a quality of a person or thing Some people attribute stubbornness to mules.

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Comments on attribute

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