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

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 But now, those two attributes are changing for the better. Marci Robin, Allure, "Smashbox Announces Shade-Range Expansion of Its Beloved Studio Skin Foundation," 12 June 2018 Labels also list significant quantities of healthy fatty acids, a big part of acai's superfood status (though other berries have similar attributes). Benjamin Romano, Anchorage Daily News, "Costco: Polish dog’s demise probably won’t be postponed by polemics," 12 July 2018 Her other attribute is her leadership and being vocal. Tony Baranek, Daily Southtown, "The blue-and-gold standard: Volleyball standout Rachel Krasowski looking for junior achievement at Sandburg," 12 July 2018 Jon Snow has many attributes that are worthy of note on Game of Thrones: his heroism, his selflessness, his leadership. Megan Mccluskey, Time, "Kit Harington Is Planning a Very Drastic Change to Mark the End of Game of Thrones," 19 June 2018 With Teddy pinned and screaming, the lab tech maxes out his bulk apperception, aggression, and cruelty, among other bellicose traits, while erasing his likable attributes, such as empathy and imagination. Sandra Upson, WIRED, "Westworld Recap, Season 2 Episode 5: More Dead Than Alive," 21 May 2018 On Thursday night, the pop star took to Instagram to share just how confident she about her cellulite, stretch marks, and other physical attributes. Andrea Park, Teen Vogue, "Demi Lovato Shows Some Self-Love by Instagramming Her Cellulite, Stretch Marks, and "Extra Fat"," 6 Apr. 2018 Once the form is validated, a personalized list of rides and attractions, tailored to the individual child's physical and mental attributes, will be provided. Christina Capatides, CBS News, "Sesame Place is world’s first theme park to become certified autism center," 5 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Some bankers attributed it to competition from nonbank lenders or a lack of confidence at companies due to political upheaval. Rachel Louise Ensign, WSJ, "Business-Loan Drought Ends for Banks," 8 July 2018 The distribution increase is attributed to the rise of small distributors who respond to demand from Michiganders who left the state. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Better Made expands to 14 states outside of Michigan," 5 July 2018 White House press secretary Sarah Sanders acknowledged the policy shift, but attributed it to the government resources being stretched thin. Fox News, "FOX NEWS FIRST: SC governor hopes for 'Trump bump' in primary runoff; Democrats fear Leftist harass backlash," 26 June 2018 As for why dark matter and visible matter end up so tightly correlated in galaxies, based on the simulations, Navarro and colleagues attribute it to angular momentum acting together with gravity during galaxy formation. Natalie Wolchover, WIRED, "The Universe Is Not a Simulation, but We Can Now Simulate It," 16 June 2018 Some date it to 1889, when the newspaper The Evening World referenced it, attributing it to the Union Club in New York. Devra First, BostonGlobe.com, "Why the club sandwich may just be the perfect American food," 11 June 2018 But bike share’s exceptional safety record is not attributed to a specific design of the bikes—which are made by a handful of companies—or regulatory issues like helmet laws. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "Can dockless and station-based bike-share programs coexist?," 30 May 2018 Dartmouth officials attribute it to a wide pool of successful female graduates, along with some scheduling luck. Collin Binkley, The Christian Science Monitor, "#MeToo movement brings a wave of female graduation speakers," 9 May 2018 California’s large economy is attributed to its thriving tech sector and Hollywood, according to the Associated Press. Lisa Marie Segarra, Fortune, "California's Economy Is Now Bigger Than All of the U.K.," 5 May 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

10 Oct 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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