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 attribute (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 Moriuchi also noted that, although the North Korean hackers were technically accomplished, their more important attribute was a felonious savoir-faire. Ed Caesar, The New Yorker, 19 Apr. 2021 His best attribute is his ability to drop into coverage and pick up tight ends and running backs. Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 15 Apr. 2021 But as the Greek settlers discovered, another attribute of their new home lay just offshore. Autumn Spanne, The Atlantic, 24 Feb. 2021 From the East to the West, however, the moonstone’s main attribute is love. Beth Bernstein, Forbes, 1 June 2021 While Vuori’s garments feature a tiny, barely visible logo, On sneakers’ boldest attribute is a tooth-like sole, which wearers told me is exceptionally comfortable. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, 17 May 2021 But Sarkisian believes Jones’s greatest attribute is his mind and studious nature toward the game. BostonGlobe.com, 3 May 2021 Calibri's finest attribute, however, is that most people, apart from designers and typographers, even notice it. Allison Morrow, CNN, 28 Apr. 2021 The unifying attribute to hongshao stews is more about the outcome than the technique: Everything in the pot acquires a deep, mahogany sheen and resounding savoriness. Washington Post, 9 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Some attribute the contamination to hog pens in the community, but the cause is still unknown. Mariana Rivas, Dallas News, 4 June 2021 Women attribute their failure to a lack of knowledge and, as a result, want to learn and improve. Geri Stengel, Forbes, 19 May 2021 Officials and health experts attribute these disparities to gaps in transportation, information and technology and in some cases language barriers. Alex Putterman, courant.com, 1 May 2021 Many attribute the loss of lesbian bars to the high cost of opening and maintaining a bar, as well as the systemic difficulty women often have in acquiring financial support. NBC News, 4 Apr. 2021 Both Squires and Schildkraut attribute this inaction in large part to differences in American and British gun culture. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, 12 Mar. 2021 His co-stars attribute Hopkins’s easy acting style to his total openness. Washington Post, 25 Feb. 2021 Community leaders and government officials attribute the trend in large part to the pandemic’s disruption of support systems for youth. Washington Post, 30 May 2021 Recent reports also attribute the increase in GDP in different countries to the implementation of AI in the range of 5% to 14% (download required) in North America and over 25% in China by 2030. Miki Migdal, Forbes, 28 May 2021

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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Learn More About attribute

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

16 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attribute.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/attribute. Accessed 25 Jun. 2021.

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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 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on attribute

Nglish: Translation of attribute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of attribute for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about attribute

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