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 \ ˌa-​trə-​ˈbyü-​sh(ə-​)nᵊl How to pronounce attribution (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 During an address in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden criticized the Trump administration for hanging back on making a public attribution about the perpetrators in the SolarWinds supply chain attack. Lily Hay Newman, Wired, "Security News This Week: ‘Bulletproof’ Criminal VPN Taken Down in Global Sting," 26 Dec. 2020 Japan’s Osaka Prefecture will issue a red alert for the first time as soon as Thursday, signaling that the region is in a state of emergency, due to rising number of serious patients, broadcaster TBS reported without attribution., "L.A. Orders Stay-Home; U.S. Has Deadliest Day Ever: Virus Update," 15 Dec. 2019 But the post has circulated for years, with and without his name, and that attribution has repeatedly been debunked. Mariah Timms, USA TODAY, "Fact check: No evidence 'fence test' for Republicans, Democrats written by Jeff Foxworthy," 13 Nov. 2020 Di Maria argues that compositional aspects of the drawing support its attribution as a da Vinci. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Art Historian Claims a Newly Discovered Drawing Is the Work of Leonardo da Vinci," 23 Nov. 2020 The vacation from serious judgment seemed to me serious in itself, a reminder that nothing possesses inherent qualities except by attribution, necessarily ratified in personal experience. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Metropolitan Museum at a Hundred and Fifty," 23 Nov. 2020 Once dismissed by scholars as wishful speculation, the attribution is now gaining ground. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Did Michelangelo Carve a Graffiti Portrait Into This Florentine Facade?," 16 Nov. 2020 In years past, attribution studies could take months to complete. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Climate Change—and Research—Raced Forward as Trump Turned His Back," 3 Nov. 2020 When confronted about instances of inadequate attribution in her work, Barrett had blamed it on computer problems. Washington Post, "The Atlantic gave Ruth Shalit a ‘second chance’ 25 years after a journalism scandal. It ended with an ugly correction.," 31 Oct. 2020

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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Time Traveler for attribution

Time Traveler

The first known use of attribution was in 1598

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Statistics for attribution

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attribution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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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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