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

This is done, generally, by correlating common attributes (such as IP addresses, other browser or device information or hashed email addresses) across devices, to infer a common identity across multiple channels. sandiegouniontribune.com, "San Diego Union-Tribune Privacy Policy," 21 June 2018 There then exists a method getAttribute() on DOMDocument to get the class attribute: foreach ($links as $link) { $link_class = $link->getAttribute('class'); } 6. Kevin Guebert, Outside Online, "HTML Parsing with the DOMDocument," 20 June 2018 The films tend to be off on the sizes of some dinosaurs, and filmmakers have invented new functions for some of their physical attributes. Olivia B. Waxman, Time, "The Real Scientific History Behind the Jurassic Park Dinosaurs," 22 June 2018 But in a twist on the topic, Ugander and his graduate student Kristen M. Altenburger have found that some people are consistently drawn to those with certain dissimilar attributes. Andrea Anderson, Scientific American, "Friends of Friends Can Reveal Hidden Information about a Person," 14 June 2018 Those attributes still apply, but the recent form of Sharpe and Faulker has made Walton's floor time difficult to come by. Charlie Hatch, Cincinnati.com, "An evolution of NKU's battle for backup guard rotation," 17 Jan. 2018 Non-evangelical millennials recoil from these attributes. Nancy D. Wadsworth, Vox, "The racial demons that help explain evangelical support for Trump," 30 Apr. 2018 The so called 'perfect goal' displayed the best of both these attributes. SI.com, "World Cup Countdown: 12 Weeks to Go - The Goal That Defined the Legendary 1970 Brazil Team," 1 Apr. 2018 Those attributes were roundly rejected in this election. Kenneth F. Greene, Washington Post, "What’s next for Mexico? Here are 5 things you need to know.," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The credits, totalling $188 million across the state, are attributed to the $1.47 billion payment Georgia Power received from Toshiba in December of last year. Alex Soderstrom, ajc, "Lower Vogtle costs result in $25 credit for Georgia Power customers," 11 July 2018 That would in turn cause major problems for Moon, whose sky-high approval ratings can in part be attributed to his savvy handling of both Trump and Kim Jong Un. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "As Pompeo visits Pyongyang, South Korea quietly watches — and worries," 6 July 2018 Their 2-0 defeat is generally attributed to a brilliant display by I Azzurri, which was also a tactical triumph for Italy manager Antonio Conte. SI.com, "Spain Are Back! Why the Last 3 Major Tournaments Aren't a Blip for Football's Great Underachievers," 5 July 2018 Today about 20 paintings in the world are, with meticulous scholarship, attributed to the Renaissance master. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Yale Art Gallery Unravels Leonardo Da Vinci Mysteries," 3 July 2018 But still the economy, the big boost to it in this late stage of the bull market is attributed to these tax cuts. Fox News, "Former agent fires back at calls to abolish ICE," 30 June 2018 According to a crack team of European researchers, most deaths in kite sports are attributed to gusts. Marc Peruzzi, Outside Online, "19 Lessons I Learned from Extreme Sports Pros," 25 June 2018 Accelerated spreading of the flames has been attributed to extremely high temperatures, low humidity and whipping winds. Thomas Leavy, CBS News, "Officials report "zero containment" of 1,500-acre blaze Pawnee Fire in California," 24 June 2018 Talking to smart speakers could complicate that process because children attribute thoughts and feelings to interactive devices but regard them as less-than-human, according to a 2013 review of 37 studies at the University of Washington. Sue Shellenbarger, WSJ, "Alexa: Don’t Let My 2-Year-Old Talk to You That Way," 10 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

21 Nov 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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