at·​tri·​bu·​tion ˌa-trə-ˈbyü-shən How to pronounce attribution (audio)
plural attributions
: the act of attributing something
especially : the ascribing of a work (as of literature or art) to a particular author or artist
: an ascribed quality, character, or right
Supernatural powers were attributions of the gods.
psychology : the interpretive process by which people make judgments about the causes of their own behavior and the behavior of others
Psychologists have long documented what they call the fundamental attribution error, the tendency for people to explain human behavior in terms of the traits of individual actors, even when powerful situational forces are at work.Erica Goode
attributional adjective

Examples of attribution in a Sentence

a genuine respect for one another is one of the most commonly cited attributions of a happily married couple
Recent Examples on the Web Building a holistic attribution system internally may not be an easy feat, so consider sourcing out to agencies who’ve already become masters of multi-channel attribution. Sergio Alvarez, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 An intelligence organization called IARPA wants to get better at the art of cyber attribution. Sarah Scoles, Popular Science, 2 Nov. 2023 In efforts to get at any of the three attribution answers, both the government and the private sector are important operators. Sarah Scoles, Popular Science, 2 Nov. 2023 Though attribution can’t be confirmed, it was credited with a string of assassinations: A pro-Russian blogger was shot dead in Kherson City. James Verini Paolo Pellegrin, New York Times, 1 Nov. 2023 The adversary that hacked the emails is China, according to Microsoft, but officials did not give any U.S. government attribution. Luke Barr, ABC News, 12 July 2023 Although attribution for podcast listening is getting more sophisticated, downloads are still a crucially important metric for the industry. Ariel Shapiro, The Verge, 17 Oct. 2023 The new analysis was produced using Climate Central’s Climate Shift Index (CSI) attribution system, which estimates how much climate change has shifted the local odds of events such as extreme heat. Andrea Thompson, Scientific American, 7 Sep. 2023 But his embracing of a literal interpretation of the text, attributions and all, as well as doling this out in a single brief portion instead of part of an anthology, keeps things not just short but sharp. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 28 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'attribution.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see attribute entry 1

First Known Use

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of attribution was in 1598

Cite this Entry

“Attribution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Legal Definition


at·​tri·​bu·​tion ˌa-trə-ˈbyü-shən How to pronounce attribution (audio)
: a rule in tax law that in certain cases deems property owned by one person or business entity to be owned by another or others

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