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 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 Lewis suggests that the Salvator Mundi might be doomed to a state of attribution limbo but notes that exhibiting it at the Louvre could tip the scales. Stephen Wallis, Town & Country, "Why the Salvator Mundi Isn't in the Louvre's Blockbuster Leonardo da Vinci Exhibit," 21 Oct. 2019 But an alternative attribution to Saverio dalla Rosa, Cignaroli’s nephew, has been suggested. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian, "Rare Portrait of Teenage Mozart Heads to Auction," 15 Nov. 2019 But in the two years since the sale at Christie’s, controversy over the painting’s attribution has intensified. Washington Post, "The Louvre wants this $450 million ‘Leonardo’ in its big show. But its mystery owner appears to be balking.," 15 Oct. 2019 Scientists have traditionally poo-pooed anthropomorphism, the attribution of human feelings and motives to animals. Emily Underwood, Science | AAAS, "Lab rats play hide-and-seek for the fun of it, new study shows," 12 Sep. 2019 The shoreline location accounts for the attribution of the bread’s canoe-like shape, its hull filled with salty cheese; butter and an egg or egg yolk are added right after the khachapuri is pulled from the oven. Los Angeles Times, "Will everyone in America soon be eating the khachapuri cheese boat?," 7 Sep. 2019 In this situation, the goal would be the ability to prove attribution without needing to reveal classified intelligence or either side's specific hacking capabilities. Wired, "Hacker Lexicon: What Are Zero-Knowledge Proofs?," 14 Sep. 2019 The flap has gripped Britain’s theater world, where open disputes about authorship and attribution are rare. Alex Marshall, New York Times, "Idris Elba Denies Plagiarism in Dispute With Writers," 4 July 2019 Celine Dauvergne, a spokeswoman for the Louvre, declined to comment on the painting’s attribution, but said the Paris museum has asked to borrow the work for an October exhibition. Time, "That Missing $450 Million Da Vinci Painting Is Reportedly on Saudi Crown Prince MBS' Yacht," 10 June 2019

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

7 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Attribution.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

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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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Comments on attribution

What made you want to look up attribution? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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