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 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 Network science’s ability to connect disciplines might be its greatest attribute. C. Brandon Ogbunu, Wired, "The Science That Spans #MeToo, Memes, and Covid-19," 27 Oct. 2020 The risk of viral illness is a reality all teams must face this season, making flexibility a key attribute in 2020-21. Shannon Russell, The Courier-Journal, "Masks, Zoom calls and pared down playbook make for interesting Louisville hoops preseason," 3 Nov. 2020 Here, Hammond introduced another key attribute of his Connery character, his frequent claims to have slept with Trebek's mother. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "Watch Darrell Hammond's best moments as Sean Connery on Saturday Night Live," 31 Oct. 2020 ReviewMeta runs 12 tests for veracity, while Review Summarizer compares specific attributes of a product and calculates the percentage of positive and negative reviews for that attribute. Roy Furchgott, Washington Post, "How to spot fake reviews on travel sites," 29 Oct. 2020 This attribute is even more appealing when used with the LIVE Interactions feature, in which iFit trainers digitally adjust the incline and resistance for you. Sian Babish, chicagotribune.com, "Best Peloton alternatives for at-home workouts," 30 Sep. 2020 Obviously, a vacuum's cleaning ability is its most important attribute. Whitson Gordon, NBC News, "Roomba robot vacuums: Everything you need to know," 8 Oct. 2020 Their conception is shorn of any real emphasis on human sinfulness as a universal attribute, or on humility — and with it, the concomitant need for repentance, forgiveness, and mutual accountability. Daniel J. Mahoney, National Review, "The Spirit of Religion and the Spirit of Liberty," 23 Sep. 2020 The attribute that stuck out against Southern Miss was composure. G Smith, NOLA.com, "Meet Michael Pratt, who is joining a heady list of Tulane freshman starting QBs," 7 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In the late 18th century William Jones, a British judge in Calcutta, concluded that Sanskrit’s similarity to Latin and Greek was too great to attribute to mere chance. The Economist, "Johnson Like biological species, languages evolve," 14 Nov. 2020 One post, an image of former Soviet leader Joseph Stalin with text added, appears to attribute a quip about vote counting to the dictator. Mariah Timms, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Stalin likely didn't say quote about 'those who count the votes decide everything'," 10 Nov. 2020 While McDaniel repeatedly said the problem was caused by a software glitch, the Antrim County clerk appeared to attribute the issue to both the county's election software and human error. Dave Boucher, Detroit Free Press, "McDaniel claims election misconduct in Michigan, elsewhere, but doesn't present proof," 6 Nov. 2020 Good manners, a willingness to listen, and a refusal to attribute malicious motives to one’s opponent are not the exclusive preserve of formal political hearings. Cameron Hilditch, National Review, "Why the Senators Don’t Hate Each Other," 20 Oct. 2020 Henson warns it’s seductively reductionist to attribute Texas’ rapid statewide purpling simply to California expats. Matt Levin, SFChronicle.com, "Californians leave for Texas in numbers, making politically red state closer to purple," 10 Oct. 2020 Other farms asked health officials to attribute outbreaks to other units of their company. Washington Post, "Virus’s unseen hot zone: The American farm," 24 Sep. 2020 Meyer, the Utah climate researcher, hesitated to attribute the August temperatures to climate change. Thomas Frank, Scientific American, "How Record-Smashing Heat Ushered in Western Infernos," 11 Sep. 2020 The Forest Service acknowledged goats are creating wallows but has declined to attribute all negative effects documented in the report to goats, saying some even predate the goats’ presence. Brian Maffly, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Utah looks to expand mountain goat range, but at what cost to alpine landscapes?," 23 Aug. 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

18 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Attribute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/attribute. Accessed 27 Nov. 2020.

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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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