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

Hart explains that as a mix of yellow and green rays, this hue takes on attributes of both colors while bringing its own flavor into the mix. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Will Blue Make You Psychic? Can Yellow Detox Your Mind? A Color Therapist Weighs in on Fall 2019’s Color Trends," 4 Apr. 2019 Fekir is still only 24 years old and possesses all the attributes of a player similar to Philippe Coutinho. SI.com, "Liverpool Fans Rejoice Over Imminent Deal for Nabil Fekir Whilst Man Utd Supporters Vent Frustration," 8 June 2018 For me, beauty is not related to the physical attributes—for me, beauty is about grace. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Pierpaolo Piccioli on Couture and the Importance of Community," 11 Oct. 2018 Mangels are prized for their keeping attributes and can be stored over winter. Robin Tribble, Popular Mechanics, "How to Grow a Giant Pumpkin," 24 Jan. 2019 Libra and Aquarius share a lot of your intellectual attributes. Ashley Otero, Teen Vogue, "Who You Should Date, Based on Your Horoscope," 20 Aug. 2018 The World Cup highlighted his brilliant attributes with a total of three goals from three games. SI.com, "Why Tottenham Should Move to Sign Colombia Defender Yerry Mina From Barcelona," 12 July 2018 Sports Highlights Up Next: 2018 NBA Draft Profile: Grayson Allen Your video will play in: 5 seconds 2018 NBA Draft Profile: Grayson Allen Grayson Allen discusses the 2018 NBA Draft and declares his best attribute is shooting the basketball. Jason Jones, sacbee, "Michael Porter Jr. is enticing at No. 2. But how will Kings assess his latest setback?," 14 June 2018 Their chief attribute seems to be that they are served piping hot. Devra First, BostonGlobe.com, "It’s the rolls. It has always been the rolls," 31 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Of particular note is Damon’s ongoing push to root out kitchen culture’s toxicities, which have typically been attributed to the hypermasculine ego. Vogue, "How Kia Damon Keeps It Cool in the Kitchen," 9 Apr. 2019 One is a post-election memo her campaign strategists provided to The Washington Post last month, which attributed her defeat in November to external factors. Li Zhou, Vox, "Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl is officially stepping down on December 31," 14 Dec. 2018 The lawsuit, which attributes the porch collapse to wood rot and poor drainage, seeks unspecified damages in excess of $50,000 against the property owner, Alex Tenuta of Highland Park. Karen Berkowitz, chicagotribune.com, "Highland Park family sues landlord after porch collapsed," 12 June 2018 Still, Chinese enrollment in Texas — and from other countries — has declined in recent years, which analysts attribute to U.S. degree costs, policy rhetoric unfriendly to foreign students, and rising competition from other countries. Lindsay Ellis, San Antonio Express-News, "Colleges could see fewer Chinese students," 31 May 2018 That's a drop from 13.2 million daily smokers to 12.2 million, which health officials attribute to the anti-smoking measures of their National Tobacco Reduction Plan in 2016. Andrea Diaz, CNN, "One million people in France quit smoking last year," 29 May 2018 Kim's impending visit quickly became a lead story on CNN, which attributed the scoop to the president. Callum Borchers, Washington Post, "President Trump, your source for breaking news about North Korea," 29 May 2018 The decision to bring back Last Man Standing was made easier by the success of ABC’s Roseanne reboot, which some attribute in part to its star’s support of President Trump. Ellen Gray, Philly.com, "'Rise' falls, but 'Last Man Standing,' 'Brooklyn Nine-Nine' are winners as Fox, NBC unveil 2018-19 plans," 14 May 2018 In his second-quarter portfolio commentary, Bill attributed the fund’s losses to a bad call on German bonds. Sean Elder, Town & Country, "The War of The Grosses: Inside the Bitter Divorce Battle of the Laguna Beach "Bond King"," 22 Oct. 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 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

11 Apr 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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