at·​tri·​bu·​tion | \ ˌa-trə-ˈbyü-shən How to pronounce attribution (audio) \
plural attributions

Definition of attribution

1 : the act of attributing something especially : the ascribing of a work (as of literature or art) to a particular author or artist
2 : an ascribed quality, character, or right Supernatural powers were attributions of the gods.
3 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

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Other Words from attribution

attributional \ -​sh(ə-​)nᵊl How to pronounce attributional (audio) \ 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

And the prime minister's total attribution of blame to Putin without publishing any evidence has played into the Kremlin's hands., "How not to pressure Putin," 29 Mar. 2018 Not every researcher agrees that attribution science can pull off both magnitude and probability calculations. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "How to Fight Climate Change: Figure Out Who's to Blame, and Sue Them," 4 May 2018 Meanwhile, improvements in attribution are leading to a whole new response to climate change: lawsuits. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "How to Fight Climate Change: Figure Out Who's to Blame, and Sue Them," 4 May 2018 Authenticity, identification and attribution are mysterious things. Willard Spiegelman, WSJ, "‘The Eye’ Review: Arbiters of the Authentic," 9 Aug. 2018 As the world warms and science advances, scientists get more specific, even without attribution studies. Seth Borenstein, Fox News, "Scientists: World's warming; expect more intense hurricanes," 15 Sep. 2018 The change comes as part of a settlement with Getty Images that aims to improve attribution for their contributors, Google said. Mahita Gajanan, Time, "Google Killed its Popular 'View Image' Feature, and the Internet Isn't Having It," 18 Feb. 2018 Leonardo experimented ceaselessly and didn’t sign paintings, making attribution a challenge. John Hooper, WSJ, "Exhibits Mark 500 Years of Leonardo da Vinci, the Original Renaissance Man," 31 Oct. 2018 Where Obama and Shapiro differ sharply in their explanation is in the attribution of blame. Ezra Klein, Vox, "Ben Shapiro’s revealing explanation for Donald Trump’s rise: it’s all Obama’s fault," 7 Sep. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'attribution.' 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 attribution

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for attribution

see attribute entry 1

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Statistics for attribution

Last Updated

25 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for attribution

The first known use of attribution was in 1598

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More Definitions for attribution


at·​tri·​bu·​tion | \ ˌa-trə-ˈbyü-shən How to pronounce attribution (audio) \

Legal Definition of attribution

: 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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