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 India has many of the attributes that tend to propel growth in digital payments. John Detrixhe, Quartz India, "Cashless payments are growing faster in India than just about anywhere else," 12 Nov. 2019 Offsetting the benefits of the economy, Trump gets negative views on a series of attributes. BostonGlobe.com, "Trump trails Democratic rivals in national survey as independents move away - The Boston Globe," 6 Nov. 2019 Integrity, leadership ability and self-confidence are some of the attributes that might be considered. NBC News, "After Harvard affirmative action decision, Asian American students rethink college applications," 30 Oct. 2019 Researchers categorized the faces according to dozens of attributes and then surveyed people about their reaction to different robotic facial styles. Peter Holley, Washington Post, "Wanted: 'Friendly’ human face for global army of humanoid robots. Apply within.," 24 Oct. 2019 Blueberry ice cream can taste like a symphony transposed onto the ringtone of a flip phone, but Caporicci's version plays like a high-fidelity, psychedelic remix of the berry’s best attributes. Ali Bouzari, SFChronicle.com, "The molecular science behind a Larkspur shop’s blueberry ice cream," 27 Sep. 2019 Users collect verifiable claims of attributes from validators—such as banks, governments, and universities—but when a third party wants to learn something about a user, the user can decide whether and how much to reveal. Don Tapscott, Quartz, "We’re living in an era of digital feudalism. Here’s how to take your data and identity back," 11 Sep. 2019 That has one of the unique attributes of not having a performance impact. William Harwood, CBS News, "Dream Chaser spaceplanes to launch on ULA Vulcan rocket," 14 Aug. 2019 But should patients be able to choose clinicians on the basis of such attributes? New York Times, "Should Patients Be Allowed to Choose — or Refuse — Doctors by Race or Gender?," 6 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Cohen attributed that to a shorter hospital stay, fewer short-term complications, and lower rehab and readmission costs for the study population. Bret Jaspers, azcentral, "Patients love easier heart valve replacement operation, but it's not for everyone," 18 Nov. 2019 The Yemen Archive attributed three attacks to al-Qaida militants and the remaining six to other or unidentifiable sources. Washington Post, "Report: Over 130 attacks on medical facilities in Yemen war," 14 Nov. 2019 Some candidates attributed their victory at least in part to Brown’s program. cleveland, "Candidates get a boost from Sherrod Brown in recent local races," 13 Nov. 2019 In a video posted on Twitter, Brugnaro attributed the heightened flooding largely to climate change. Melissa Locker, Smithsonian, "Venice Declares State of Emergency as City Battles Worst Floods in 50 Years," 13 Nov. 2019 Company officials attributed the 12-fold growth of revenue to an increase of natural gas production and sales from the companies gas wells in the Haynesville Shale of northern Louisiana. Sergio Chapa, Houston Chronicle, "Tellurian grows revenue from Haynesville Shale wells," 7 Nov. 2019 Holzer attributed his belief in the event to Matt Hale, the one-time leader of a group that the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tracks hate groups, described as a white supremacist religious organization. Tim Stelloh, NBC News, "Alleged white supremacist charged in plot to blow up Colorado synagogue," 4 Nov. 2019 Any quote attributed to me is completely false and solely meant by haters to undermine our intention to continue to get along, protect and raise our daughters, and be examples of successful co-parents. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "With 'heavy heart' Ian Ziering announces split with wife of 9 years, Erin," 1 Nov. 2019 The company attributed the weaker forecast to its inability to sign a new TV deal in the Middle East. Paul R. La Monica, CNN, "WWE rocked due to Middle East TV deal concerns," 31 Oct. 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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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

21 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Attribute.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/attributed. Accessed 22 November 2019.

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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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