prov·​e·​nance | \ ˈpräv-nən(t)s How to pronounce provenance (audio) , ˈprä-və-ˌnän(t)s \

Definition of provenance

2 : the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature

Examples of provenance in a Sentence

Has anyone traced the provenances of these paintings? The artifact is of unknown provenance.
Recent Examples on the Web The documents were stolen from the Pentagon, but their provenance shouldn’t have kept — and ultimately didn’t keep — the newspapers from publication. Margaret Sullivan, Washington Post, "Now the world can read Mary Trump’s blistering book about her uncle. Holding it back would have been pure censorship.," 2 July 2020 Some of the cosmic neutrinos that reach Earth have been traveling through space at the speed of light for billions of years, but their provenance remains a mystery. Daniel Oberhaus, Wired, "The Hunt Is On for Elusive Ghost Particles in Antarctica," 12 June 2020 For high-ticket items, look into getting a professional appraisal to verify the item’s age, provenance and full retail (or replacement value), which is important to private buyers. oregonlive, "When you have a lifetime of stuff to let go, experts help with hard decisions," 10 June 2020 There, the president stood before cameras and awkwardly held aloft a Bible of mysterious provenance. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Are You Really Surprised by Our Authoritarian President?," 3 June 2020 Ivan Vasquez is similarly fastidious about the quality and provenance of the Oaxacan ingredients used in his restaurants. Los Angeles Times, "Is L.A. becoming a tlayuda desert? How COVID-19 is causing a shortage of Oaxacan ingredients," 1 May 2020 The brouhaha over virus terminology and provenance has taken center stage in the rising tensions between the United States and China. Howard Lafranchi, The Christian Science Monitor, "Containing coronavirus: Why US, China compete about that, too," 30 Mar. 2020 The museum and Hobby Lobby both asked the auction house about the tablet's origin but the auction house withheld that information and lied in saying that the antiquities dealer had confirmed the details of provenance, according to the DOJ. Alisha Ebrahimji, CNN, "US wants to send ancient artifact Hobby Lobby bought for $1.6 million back to Iraq," 20 May 2020 The false story of the tablet's provenance was discovered after a curator at the Museum of the Bible began conducting due diligence research in 2017. NBC News, "Authorities announce forfeiture of ancient Gilgamesh tablet from Hobby Lobby's Museum of the Bible," 18 May 2020

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

1785, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for provenance

French, from provenir to come forth, originate, from Latin provenire, from pro- forth + venire to come — more at pro-, come

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Time Traveler for provenance

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The first known use of provenance was in 1785

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Statistics for provenance

Last Updated

10 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Provenance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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How to pronounce provenance (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of provenance

formal : the origin or source of something

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with provenance

Nglish: Translation of provenance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of provenance for Arabic Speakers

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