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 attribution (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 Another characteristic supporting the attribution is the size of the scribble. Nora Mcgreevy, Smithsonian Magazine, "Who Scribbled This Cryptic Graffiti on ‘The Scream’?," 24 Feb. 2021 Sullivan said the White House has asked the intelligence community to do more work to sharpen the attribution made by the Trump administration, including about how the hack occurred, the extent of the damage, and the scope and scale of the breach. Melissa Quinn, CBS News, "Sullivan says Biden ready for Iran talks, vows "seen and unseen" response to SolarWinds hack," 21 Feb. 2021 When a version of the quote began circulating on Facebook in 2019, PolitiFact attempted to find a solid attribution of the quote to Stalin, but couldn't. Mariah Timms, USA TODAY, "Fact check: Stalin likely didn't say quote about 'those who count the votes decide everything'," 10 Nov. 2020 Of the other works, two were removed from the marketplace and the attribution changed on the third. New York Times, "Why Were So Many Stettheimer Art Works Up for Sale? Not All Were Real," 7 Feb. 2021 Cory Korkow, the associate curator of European art, explores works by European old masters that present problems of attribution and conservation. Steven Litt, cleveland, "Cleveland Museum of Art’s revelatory “Stories from Storage’’ exhibit brings hidden gems into the light," 7 Feb. 2021 None include attribution of the original source material. Erin Golden, Star Tribune, "Rochester schools superintendent resigns after plagiarism accusations," 3 Feb. 2021 The mythical 400-pound hacker has since become practically a meme among cybersecurity professionals pointing to lazy attribution. Andy Greenberg, Wired, "Trump’s Worst, Most Bizarre Statements About ‘the Cyber’," 18 Jan. 2021 The public attribution to Russia is the most definitive accounting yet after separate statements last month by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and then-Attorney General William Barr who both pointed to the Kremlin. Kevin Johnson, USA TODAY, "U.S. formally links Russia to massive 'ongoing' cyber attack; scope of hacking unclear," 5 Jan. 2021

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

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Attribution.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Mar. 2021.

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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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