con·​trib·​u·​to·​ry | \ kən-ˈtri-byə-ˌtȯr-ē How to pronounce contributory (audio) \

Definition of contributory

1 : of, relating to, or forming a contribution : playing a part in bringing about an end or result The lack of cultural empathy among the principal statesmen in the late 1930s is identified as an important contributory factor in the slide toward war …— Colin S. Gray Infection was a contributory but not primary cause of death in another nine patients.— Graeme F. Washer
2 : relating to or being an employee benefit (such as a retirement account) that is funded at least in part by employee contributions a contributory 401(k) plan
3 : subject to or contributing to a common fund or enterprise : subject to levy or furnishing a share or contingent contributory allies

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Other Words from contributory

contributorily \ kən-​ˌtri-​byə-​ˈtȯr-​ə-​lē How to pronounce contributory (audio) \ adverb
was found to be contributorily negligent

Examples of contributory in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web At the time, the U.S. regulatory approach itself was identified as a huge contributory problem. University Of Houston Energy Fellows, Forbes, 6 May 2021 That last contributory condition had not been raised by an expert before, and several jurors jotted down notes. Eric Ferkenhoff, USA TODAY, 21 Apr. 2021 The causes were multiple, but a significant contributory factor was Lyndon B. Johnson’s ‘Great Society’ spending spree, which sought to eradicate poverty and redress racial inequalities. Steven Desmyter, Forbes, 20 Apr. 2021 His sentiments in 2015 that foreigners should not compete with locals for scarce economic opportunities were denounced as being xenophobic and contributory to violence against non-nationals. Norma Young, Quartz, 19 Mar. 2021 Both the cancer and the COVID were listed as contributory causes. Alan Cowell,, 2 Mar. 2021 Both the cancer and the Covid were listed as contributory causes. New York Times, 1 Mar. 2021 Supporters of the change call the contributory negligence doctrine harsh, noting that when a scooter or e-bike rider is struck and injured, he or she is barred from recovering any damages if the rider is even 1 percent negligent. Washington Post, 20 Nov. 2020 Every October, the country largely ignores Filipino American History Month, which is a shame, given the enormous, contributory role Filipino Americans have played in shaping the American experience for everyone. Aric Jenkins, Fortune, 7 Oct. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contributory.' 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 contributory

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for contributory

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The first known use of contributory was in the 15th century

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Statistics for contributory

Last Updated

9 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contributory.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for contributory



English Language Learners Definition of contributory

: helping to cause something
: paid for by both the employee and employer


con·​trib·​u·​to·​ry | \ kən-ˈtri-byə-ˌtōr-ē How to pronounce contributory (audio) \

Legal Definition of contributory

1 : characterized by or making contributions to a common fund or enterprise specifically : of, relating to, or being an employee benefit plan to which both employers and employees make contributions
2 : helping to bring about an end or result contributory infringement

More from Merriam-Webster on contributory

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contributory

Britannica English: Translation of contributory for Arabic Speakers


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