prov·​e·​nance | \ ˈpräv-nən(t)s, 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

Her academic approach to collecting is reinforced by her assiduous inventories of each object’s provenance. Luzanne Otte, Town & Country, "A Day in the Life of Southern Charm's Patricia Altschul," 12 July 2018 Verisart’s mobile app uses the bitcoin blockchain to let artists, collectors and dealers verify provenance in real time. Molly Schuetz,, "Startup Codex Brings Blockchain to Art With Backing From Pantera," 28 Feb. 2018 Once applied, the mark can be scanned by the end user to verify the part's provenance in the supply chain. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, "The Pentagon Uses Plant DNA to Catch Counterfeit Parts," 21 Nov. 2016 The provocative, exciting cocktails here, which are named after the provenance of their main ingredient, often start with local spirits. Seth Shezi, Condé Nast Traveler, "13 Best Bars in Cape Town," 13 Sep. 2018 Some of these returns were voluntary and in response to provenance research by Getty Museum staff. Deborah Vankin,, "Getty loses Italian court ruling on 'Victorious Youth' but vows to keep fighting for prized statue," 13 June 2018 Or, at least, own something with a Rockefeller provenance. Robert Khederian, Curbed, "14 of our favorite things from the Rockefeller online auction," 2 May 2018 Each garment comes with a labor card that documents the textile’s provenance and who worked on it for how long. Laird Borrelli-persson, Vogue, "Gary Graham Relaunches From a Room of His Own in Upstate New York," 24 Oct. 2018 After conducting tests, the hand's provenance and significance came into sharper focus. Sam Blum, Popular Mechanics, "3,500-Year-Old Swiss Relic Might Be Europe's Oldest Bronze Sculpture," 26 Sep. 2018

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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Last Updated

8 Jan 2019

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Time Traveler for provenance

The first known use of provenance was in 1785

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English Language Learners Definition of provenance

: the origin or source of something

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Comments on provenance

What made you want to look up provenance? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tremendous in size, volume, or degree

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