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 Speaking with the Art Newspaper’s Scott Reyburn, Turquin says a key piece of evidence supporting the attribution is a trail of centuries-old tracks left by wood-gnawing larvae. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "Lost Renaissance Masterpiece Worth $6 Million Found Hanging Above Woman’s Hotplate," 25 Sep. 2019 This is because a nation or criminal actor wishing to sow dissent could attack the U.S. and attempt to pin attribution on Iran. Kristina Libby, Popular Mechanics, "What You Can Do During a Cyber War," 8 Jan. 2020 More warming, better science The special bulletin doesn’t include every attribution study conducted each year. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "More and More Links Are Emerging Between Warming and Extreme Weather," 10 Dec. 2019 Additionally, the league will establish a platform, possibly a hotline, to allow for people to report any issues either anonymously or with attribution to make sure people feel safe from retaliation when reporting troubling conduct. Kevin Dotson And Hollie Silverman, CNN, "The NHL is taking steps to combat abusive behavior in hockey weeks after a coach resigned for using a racial slur," 10 Dec. 2019 The extent to which rudeness can be framed as a positive challenge is thought to be influenced by the attribution of the behavior—in other words, why has someone acted in this manner? Amy Irwin, Quartz at Work, "How to use rudeness in the workplace to your advantage," 6 Nov. 2019 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

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

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Attribution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

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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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