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

With money to be made and a marketable skill, women had powerful incentives to write plays that were presented either without authorial attribution or as the work of a male collaborator. Phyllis Rackin, The Atlantic, "The Hidden Women Writers of the Elizabethan Theater," 8 June 2019 Plenty of campaigns have taken material — without attribution — to put on their websites and policy proposals. NBC News, "Democratic rivals pile on Biden," 6 June 2019 Scientists reached this conclusion by employing a technique known as event attribution (EA). Natalie Sauer, Quartz, "Japan’s deadly heatwave would have been impossible without climate change," 1 June 2019 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

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

22 Jun 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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Comments on attribution

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