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

Definition of provenance

1 : origin, source
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 Nobody who has watched this year’s debate over the provenance of COVID-19 can possibly have emerged from the experience believing that all is well with the press. Charles C. W. Cooke, National Review, 3 June 2021 In art sales, for example, that could represent the provenance of something going back to the creator. Zenger News, Forbes, 31 May 2021 The Wall Street Journal couldn’t independently confirm the provenance of the video. Scott Calvert, WSJ, 21 May 2021 Potential buyers who want to check the provenance may be reassured by documents and emails, according to the listing. CNN, 29 Apr. 2021 Dana Beal stood in Union Square Park explaining the provenance of the pot being given away to a crowd of expectant people who were gathering near a bronze statue of George Washington astride a horse. New York Times, 29 Apr. 2021 John Reznikoff, who owns University Archives, said the auction house practiced due diligence in tracing the provenance of the three guestbooks, which were assembled by one consigner and came from two sources., 13 Apr. 2021 The American Alliance of Museums has guidelines about disclosing the provenance of antiquities. Los Angeles Times, 3 Apr. 2021 Whatever the centuries-old provenance of the U.S.-Morocco relationship, Trump couldn’t obscure modern cynicism over the transaction his government had engineered. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, 14 Dec. 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

Time Traveler

The first known use of provenance was in 1785

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Statistics for provenance

Last Updated

5 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Provenance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for provenance



English Language Learners Definition of provenance

formal : the origin or source of something

More from Merriam-Webster on provenance

Nglish: Translation of provenance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of provenance for Arabic Speakers


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