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 If your priorities are snob appeal and playing one-upmanship down at the polo club, the price should be an attribute, not an obstacle. Tony Assenza, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1987 Range Rover Makes Luxury and SUV Compatible," 30 June 2020 As such, optimizing a car for low drag has become more important, first as regulators in Europe demanded more efficient cars, then more recently as range has become the most important attribute of a battery electric vehicle. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, "How’s this for aerodynamic? The Lucid Air’s drag coefficient is only 0.21," 30 June 2020 The alternative is to continue to bestride both systems and accept the consequence that trust—arguably the most important attribute of a communication tool like Zoom—is at the mercy of the Chinese Communist Party. The Economist, "Schumpeter Can Zoom be trusted with users’ secrets?," 20 June 2020 As an attribute, power is only meaningful in comparison. Alain Sylvain, Quartz at Work, "Collective action is our new power language. How will leaders respond?," 19 June 2020 Their most concerning attribute is their ability to carry diseases. Kaleb A. Brown, Detroit Free Press, "Mobile app takes aim at the bane of Michigan summers — ticks and Lyme disease," 17 June 2020 The Bee Gees share with ABBA the attribute of having been, for a long time, at once hugely popular and critically disdained—deemed frivolous by the gatekeepers of the popular-music canon; simply, too much fun. The Economist, "They win again The Bee Gees were more than great disco hitmakers," 29 May 2020 At 6-4 and 198 pounds, Maledon can play on and off the ball -- again, an important attribute when teaming with Doncic -- and his athleticism could translate to success as an NBA defender. Callie Caplan, Dallas News, "5 prospects the Mavericks could target in the first round of the 2020 NBA draft," 14 May 2020 Pace said Simmons’ physical attributes, particularly his wingspan, attracted the Bears’ attention. Mark Inabinett | Minabinett@al.com, al, "Chicago Bears like potential of Dallas County ‘country boy’," 7 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Though most agencies and fireworks sellers attribute the increase to people looking for more to do at home now that many summer events have been canceled, some extreme theories have cropped up. Samantha Hendrickson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "It seems like fireworks are going off every night in Milwaukee-area neighborhoods; what's behind the rise?," 25 June 2020 Officials attribute the surge to outbreaks at workplaces, including a waste management company. Mike Massa, SFChronicle.com, "Charts show the hot spots driving California’s ‘sobering’ coronavirus surge," 25 June 2020 Kentucky officials attribute this year's surge to changes allowing people greater access to voting absentee by mail. Sarah Ewall-wice, CBS News, "Kentucky on track for historic primary turnout," 23 June 2020 Researchers attribute some of that to socializing and multigenerational living. Bruce Selcraig, ExpressNews.com, "San Antonio, still at high risk for COVID-19 deaths, has seen a lower rate than many U.S. urban centers," 22 June 2020 My concerns were largely met with dismissal by leadership who were too timid to attribute my experience to discrimination and were uninterested in real change that fostered an inclusive environment. Karen Yuan, Fortune, "Black employees say performative allyship is rampant in the office," 19 June 2020 The Federalists tended to attribute a baleful motive to any Republican criticism—and vice versa. Brenda Wineapple, The New York Review of Books, "Our First Authoritarian Crackdown," 17 June 2020 Jail officials and advocacy groups primarily attribute the shift to the closure of state institutions, which had detained people diagnosed with severe psychological disorders. Thalia Beaty, ProPublica, "Somebody’s Gotta Help Me”," 16 June 2020 Crystal Dunn Soubrier, a black player for America’s women’s football team, wrote recently that commentators attribute her ability to play in several positions to athleticism, never to her reading or study of the game. The Economist, "Johnson Language is a telling clue to unacknowledged racial attitudes," 11 June 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

9 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Attribute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/attribute. Accessed 10 Jul. 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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