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 \ -​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

On one side there are physical attributes of any variety. Kaitlin Reilly, refinery29.com, "Amber Heard Opened Up About Revenge Porn & The Limits Hollywood Puts On Women," 15 July 2019 These are, by the standards of the day, positive attributes: the profile was a glowing one, the portrait of a woman who can work the system and, perhaps, Trump himself. Masha Gessen, The New Yorker, "Trump, Pelosi, and the Squad Are Fighting Over Who Belongs in Government," 15 July 2019 That one-on-one ability is a welcome attribute, however, his creativity in attacking transitions could arguably be his best feature. SI.com, "Arsenal Targets: Comparing the Gunners' Rumoured Forward Options This Summer," 7 July 2019 And selfless service is an attribute ascribed to Virgo, one member’s sign. Jon Pareles, New York Times, "Gary Duncan, San Francisco Psychedelic Rocker, Dies at 72," 3 July 2019 Electability is the attribute Democrats are most looking for in a candidate, according to the latest CBS News Battleground Tracker. CBS News, "CBS News Eye on Trends: The latest from the CBS News Election & Survey Unit," 26 June 2019 Volts: 18 | Total holes drilled: 42 Lightweight, compact (6½ inches front to back), and easy handling are the three attributes that this drill brings to the job site. Joe Truini, Popular Mechanics, "These Are the Best Drill Drivers of 2019," 24 June 2019 Finding support in his roommate, teammate The results have come quickly and the behind-the-scenes effort from Amaya doesn't go unnoticed, Sassano indicated, saying Amaya's motivation and determination are noticeable attributes. Patrick Brennan, Cincinnati.com, "FC Cincinnati's Frankie Amaya: Despite remarkable rise, home is never far from his mind," 14 June 2019 John’s passion and energy are contagious attributes that will strengthen our program and positively impact all of our current and future students, as well as Rowan community members. Mike Jensen, https://www.inquirer.com, "John Giannini takes over as Rowan athletic director after retirement of Dan Gilmore," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

That is largely attributed to the shale oil boom that began late in George W. Bush’s administration and proceeded apace during the Obama years. Seth Borenstein, The Denver Post, "Trump administration fact check: Environment, VA, Russia and jobs," 13 July 2019 The fire’s cause wasn’t immediately attributed to lightning, but storms moved through the area Thursday night. Zaz Hollander, Anchorage Daily News, "Fast-moving wildfire forces evacuations of two Denali Borough subdivisions," 12 July 2019 The review is attributed to top engineering and development officers, including Raj Nair, who was head of global product development and chief technical officer. Freep.com, "FREE PRESS INVESTIGATION: OUT OF GEAR Ford knew Focus, Fiesta models had flawed transmission, sold them anyway," 11 July 2019 About $30 million of the revenue hit is attributed to a sequencing systems and consumables purchase that didn’t close as expected in the second half of June, the company said. Patrick Thomas, WSJ, "Illumina Stock Declines as Company Lowers Revenue Outlook," 11 July 2019 The earliest use of vanilla has long been attributed to the Totonac community in what is now the Mexican state of Veracruz. Franz Lidz, Smithsonian, "The Delicious, Ancient History of Chocolate and Vanilla," 11 July 2019 The rise in the city's property prices was largely attributed to wealthy foreign investors buying properties in the city. Joshua Berlinger, CNN, "Wife of Chinese multimillionaire sues over $200,000 fine for not living in $20M Vancouver mansion," 10 July 2019 There were no fatalities or serious injuries reported, but a number of power outages, fires and road damage were attributed to the quake. N'dea Yancey-bragg, USA TODAY, "California quakes left a crack in the Earth so big it can be seen from space," 9 July 2019 The ransomware has been attributed to the Russian government, which is suspected of first deploying it in its conflict with Ukraine. Ian Duncan, baltimoresun.com, "As Florida cities use insurance to pay $1 million in ransoms to hackers, Baltimore and Maryland weigh getting covered," 5 July 2019

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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Statistics for attribute

Last Updated

18 Jul 2019

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 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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