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

For more than two decades, a 14th-century castlecum- factory was the unlikely provenance of gorgeous cashmere separates now carried at more than 126 Brunello Cucinelli stores around the world. Alison S. Cohn, Harper's BAZAAR, "Brunello Cucinelli Celebrates 40 Years," 25 Sep. 2018 Demand will be driven by the same factors — namely greater trust in the provenance and safety of foreign goods. David Pierson,, "It's like QVC — but through a live-stream. How U.S. boutiques are reaching customers in China," 14 June 2018 Once neighbors suspect the provenance of a baby, the humiliation can be stifling. New York Times, "When a Baby Is an Everyday Reminder of Rohingya Horror," 7 July 2018 Concerned about the provenance of its new asset, Affordable Homes filed suit in 2015, asking a judge to declare that an array of past owners of the Greene Street house had no stake in the property. Craig R. Mccoy,, "A Philadelphia story: Falsely declared dead, home stolen and no one will help," 29 June 2018 Very little is known about the provenance of Lincoln’s natural mother, Nancy Hanks, and that is by design. Gillian Brockell, Washington Post, "Abraham Lincoln’s ‘angel mother’ and the second ‘mama’ who outlived him," 12 May 2018 Our unique provenance and heritage, 115 years of ideas, innovation and progress — is an advantage for Ford. Phoebe Wall Howard, Detroit Free Press, "Historian swore he'd never leave Coca-Cola — then Ford called," 29 June 2018 In the years since, Object 2014-28E has been joined by similar space objects of Russian provenance. Garrett M. Graff, WIRED, "The New Arms Race Threatening to Explode in Space," 26 June 2018 Republicans instantly opposed it, arguing against the expansion of the executive branch and saying education policy is the provenance of states and communities. Valerie Strauss,, "Why Republicans have long wanted to shut Education Department," 20 June 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

12 Nov 2018

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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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