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 attribute (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 In fact, history suggests experience is often the attribute from which America benefits most during times of acute stress. David M. Shribman, Los Angeles Times, "History holds Biden may be the right man for the moment," 28 Dec. 2020 The filename is specified by the name attribute of a file tag sent over XMPP. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Wormable code-execution flaw in Cisco Jabber has a severity rating of 9.9 out of 10," 11 Dec. 2020 The second attribute to consider is the quality level. Rachel King, Fortune, "Why right now is the time to start aging your wine collection," 4 Oct. 2020 This is an uncommon attribute recognized in less than 4 percent of bird species globally, most of which are in the tropics. Jonathan C. Slaght, Scientific American, "A Duet of Fish Owls," 10 Dec. 2020 And to Aral, the Yan report has every attribute of a false news story that was primed to go viral. Monique Brouillette, National Geographic, "Why misinformation about COVID-19’s origins keeps going viral," 18 Sep. 2020 But their main attribute appears to be loyalty to the president. Arie Perliger, The Conversation, "Trump’s purge of defense agencies comes at a vulnerable time for US national security," 18 Nov. 2020 Proctor said Penix’s confidence is the attribute that stands out the most. Nathan Baird, cleveland, "Is Indiana’s Michael Penix the quarterback who can finally topple Ohio State football’s reign in the East?," 18 Nov. 2020 Indeed, infallibility, which is sometimes attributed to popes, is not a necessary saintly attribute, and history is full of saints who were not exactly saints during their lifetimes. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, "Sainted Too Soon? Vatican Report Cast John Paul II in Harsh New Light," 14 Nov. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Many attribute the win to an upsurge of Black voters in the state’s urban centers and growing suburbs, but others say Biden was helped by a depressed Republican vote led by moderates who were disgusted at Trump. USA TODAY, "'Fate of the nation': Georgia voters to decide control of Senate under shadow of President Trump's grievances," 5 Jan. 2021 Michelangelo did not care for Raphael at all; some art historians attribute his ill will stemming from losing a commission to the younger artist in 1508. History Magazine, "The Renaissance 'Prince of Painters' made a big impact in his short life," 22 Dec. 2020 Experts attribute the higher death rate compared with the rest of the continent to a higher proportion of the population being over the age of 65 and thus more at risk of severe complications. Washington Post, "South Africa’s second coronavirus wave is fueled by a new strain, teen ‘rage festivals’," 18 Dec. 2020 Experts attribute this in part to wavering public confidence following a vaccine-program debacle in 2017. Feliz Solomon, WSJ, "Vaccines Are Coming but They Won’t End Covid-19 Anytime Soon," 13 Dec. 2020 Experts attribute the seeming intractability of Israel’s police brutality problem to the mixed mission of the force: the police role of maintaining law and order melded with the military one of securing the front lines of a national conflict. New York Times, "An Autistic Man Is Killed, Exposing Israel’s Festering Police Brutality Problem," 7 Dec. 2020 Citizen Kane’s closing credits attribute the original screenplay to Herman J. Mankiewicz and Orson Welles. Amy Nicholson, Town & Country, "The True Story Behind Mank," 5 Dec. 2020 All four players were recruited by defensive line coach Rodney Garner, the man Brown and Davidson attribute a lot of their success to. Giana Han, al, "Auburn signs another solid defensive line class to help replace graduating starters," 17 Dec. 2020 But Robbins’ best attribute right now that can translate from the mid-major level is shot blocking. Marcus Fuller, Star Tribune, "Liam Robbins' shot blocking potential could be key for Gophers vs. Boston College," 8 Dec. 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

11 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attribute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/attribute. Accessed 22 Jan. 2021.

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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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