attribute

noun
at·tri·bute | \ ˈa-trə-ˌbyüt \

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 , -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

c : classify, designate

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Other words from attribute

Verb

attributable \-byü-tə-bəl, -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

And Hardiman's working-class roots - his time driving a taxi during his days as a law student at Georgetown University - have been cited as an attribute inside the White House, along with his conservative rulings. Author: Robert Costa, David Weigel, Robert Barnes, Anchorage Daily News, "Trump weighs top picks for Supreme Court amid last-minute maneuvering," 8 July 2018 Collins will discuss the special attributes of Hope Valley, both natural and human, that accompanied its industrial success. Courant Community, "Community News For The Hebron Edition," 29 May 2018 After analyzing the attributes of more than half a million songs released over a period of 30 years, a computer algorithm was able to sort the successful songs from also-rans with an accuracy of up to 86%. Karen Kaplan, latimes.com, "Computers crack the code of pop-song success: It helps to be 'happy' and 'female'," 16 May 2018 Trademark law doesn’t give either company a hold on any one attribute of their logo. Gabrielle Banks, San Antonio Express-News, "Buc-ee’s lawyer: Rival Choke Canyon used cartoon animal to lure away drivers," 15 May 2018 The loss of the Dominican Republic sees Taiwan’s diplomatic partners drop below what some experts say is a psychological threshold of 20, fueling questions about the island’s level of international recognition—a key attribute of nationhood. Eva Dou, WSJ, "China Woos Another Taiwan Partner, Diluting Island’s Support," 1 May 2018 Sure, Robinson’s natural talent has been partly responsible for her decorated high school career — all the county and region titles, top-five state meet finishes and two state championships — but several other attributes have led to these triumphs. Kyle Stackpole, Howard County Times, "Sydney Robinson sprints towards girls outdoor track and field Athlete of the Year honors," 26 June 2018 Next: 2018 NBA Draft Profile: Wendell Carter Jr. Your video will play in: 5 seconds 2018 NBA Draft Profile: Wendell Carter Jr. Wendell Carter Jr. believes his best on court attribute is rebounding the basketball. William Wilkerson, star-telegram, "Vote: Who will Mavs take No. 5 overall in NBA Draft?," 20 June 2018 And there have been large studies of birth order that seem to discredit the notion that common attributes exist at all. Adam Sternbergh, The Cut, "The Extinction of the Middle Child," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Sure, wise teams soak up their fair share of pressure, before pouncing - a simple narrative to attribute to this game. SI.com, "Why Didier Deschamps Is Still a Problem Regardless of Leading France to the World Cup Final," 12 July 2018 Parents whose children attended the school and Discovery officials attributed some of the failure to their belief that school officials were unsupportive and in some cases undermined their ability to operate with enough autonomy. Liz Bowie, baltimoresun.com, "Proposed Baltimore County charter school takes application fight to state officials," 10 July 2018 Officials hinted at it for months, before the Trump Administration first publicly attributed the NotPetya malware to Russia in February and then blamed Russia in March for grid hacking. Lily Hay Newman, WIRED, "The Worst Cybersecurity Breaches of 2018 So Far," 9 July 2018 Neither Woeiwyu nor Jabateh was specifically charged with the acts of torture, ethnically targeted killing, and conscription of child soldiers that government witnesses attributed to them or their fighters. Kelly Brennan, Philly.com, "Delco man convicted of hiding past as Liberian war criminal," 3 July 2018 Was that the only thing that attributed to his death? CBS News, "Tyler Hilinski, Washington State football player, had brain damage at time of suicide," 26 June 2018 Buchleiter started to experience physical health problems, which some doctors attributed to her state of mind. Shari Rudavsky, Indianapolis Star, "'Life-changing surgery': IU Health gender affirmation program one of few in Midwest," 9 June 2018 The layoffs come after 14 editorial employees lost their jobs in late-May, which Pape had also attributed to economic factors. Express-news Staff, San Antonio Express-News, "Express-News lays off 20 employees," 12 July 2018 State coffers in Massachusetts and beyond are enjoying an unexpected windfall in revenue that experts attribute in part to the federal tax overhaul President Trump signed into law in December. Joshua Miller And Matt Stout, BostonGlobe.com, "Mass. Legislature could strengthen Charlie Baker’s hand with budget delay," 12 July 2018

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

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

Verb

see attribute entry 1

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Statistics for attribute

Last Updated

12 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for attribute

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

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More Definitions for attribute

attribute

noun

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 \

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 \
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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