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 Examples of attribution models and how value is assigned: • Last Click: This model attributes all conversion values to the last interaction. Jenya Edelberg, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 But for older academics, subjecting work to the software’s level of scrutiny could well reveal attribution errors — intentional or not — that have never come to light before. Tribune News Service, The Mercury News, 23 Jan. 2024 What becomes more powerful as the story of his life progresses, however, is the media’s fixation on Vandross’ weight, and subsequent, sensationalist attributions of its fluctuations to unanswered questions about his sexuality. Todd Gilchrist, Variety, 21 Jan. 2024 Last month, the conservative activist Christopher Rufo and the journalist Christopher Brunet accused then–Harvard President Claudine Gay of having copied short passages without attribution in her dissertation. Matteo Wong, The Atlantic, 10 Jan. 2024 Its religious trappings are plain enough: the attribution of natural catastrophes to human wickedness, revelations of the apocalypse, persecution of heretics. Christian Schneider, National Review, 28 Sep. 2023 What makes the calculation process complicated is data points and attribution of monetary value in customer journeys. Jenya Edelberg, Forbes, 29 Feb. 2024 Swayze plays a man killed in a mugging who returns as a spirit to Romans, the love of his life (Moore), and seeks attribution for his death. Declan Gallagher,, 29 Feb. 2024 Such claims resurged with the widespread and false attribution of images from the Borough Park scene as activity at the Chabad headquarters. Miles Klee, Rolling Stone, 2 Feb. 2024

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 13 Apr. 2024.

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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