at·tri·bu·tion | \ˌa-trə-ˈbyü-shən \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from attribution

attributional \-sh(ə-)nᵊl \ 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

This is the second time this year that the U.S. and U.K. have attributed cyberattacks on Russia, following their unprecedented attribution in February of last year’s extremely expensive NotPetya attack. David Meyer, Fortune, "U.S. and U.K. Are Blaming Russia for a Global Hacking Campaign and Giving Advice on How to Thwart It," 17 Apr. 2018 The appearance, at the start of this year, of Olympic Destroyer with its sophisticated deception efforts, changed the attribution game forever. Dan Goodin, Ars Technica, "Hackers who sabotaged the Olympic games return for more mischief," 19 June 2018 The painting’s attribution is to be announced Wednesday at the presentation of the curator’s catalogue of early works in the collection. John Hooper, WSJ, "How a $30 Million Renaissance Masterpiece Was Found," 21 May 2018 Anthropomorphism is the attribution of human traits, emotions or intentions to non-human entities such as animals. Dianna M. Náñez, azcentral, "Arizona GOP lawmaker asks Twitter what furry is, gets a Fursona from #RedforEd supporter," 6 May 2018 Aside from the unusual attribution of chivalrous motives to Donald Trump, Cramer seems to be ignoring the inherently duplicitous approach taken to incumbents from the other party by people in the White House who might need their votes. Ed Kilgore, Daily Intelligencer, "North Dakota’s GOP Senate Candidate Complains That Trump Is Being Too Nice to a Democrat," 12 June 2018 The following quote was posted on the Bayview Yacht Club's Facebook page, with attribution to Vice Commodore Greg Thomas. Robert Allen, Detroit Free Press, "Who really invented the Detroit Hummer?," 10 May 2018 Many countries bestow creators with a right of attribution and the right to the integrity of their work. Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter, "Jay-Z Triumphs in "Big Pimpin" Appeal as Egyptians Can't Enforce Moral Rights," 31 May 2018 Scientific attribution of blame for all that—ascribing portions of disasters to climate change, and ascribing portions of climate change to particular companies—is very much at the center of these lawsuits. Adam Rogers, WIRED, "Can a City Really Sue an Oil Company for Climate Change?," 25 May 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.

See More

First Known Use of attribution

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for attribution

see attribute entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about attribution

Share attribution

Statistics for attribution

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for attribution

The first known use of attribution was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for attribution


at·tri·bu·tion | \ˌa-trə-ˈbyü-shən \

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!