tributary

noun
trib·​u·​tary | \ ˈtri-byə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce tributary (audio) \
plural tributaries

Definition of tributary

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a stream feeding a larger stream or a lake
2 : a ruler or state that pays tribute to a conqueror

tributary

adjective

Definition of tributary (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : paying tribute to another to acknowledge submission, to obtain protection, or to purchase peace : subject
2 : paid or owed as tribute tributary gifts
3 : channeling material or supplies into something more inclusive : contributory

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Synonyms & Antonyms for tributary

Synonyms: Noun

Antonyms: Noun

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Did You Know?

A tributary was originally a person or state that owed tribute to a more powerful person or state. Ancient China, for instance, had dozens of tributary states, and the emperor would receive elephants from Siam or young girls from Korea as tribute. Just as a smaller power gave some of its wealth to a larger power, a small river contributes its waters to a larger one. A tributary can be a tiny stream, but some are immense rivers. The Missouri River, for example, could be called a tributary to the Mississippi, even though it's about 2,500 miles long and receives hundreds of tributaries itself.

Examples of tributary in a Sentence

Noun one of the river's tributaries This stream is a tributary of the Ohio River.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Federal officials, which run the Coleman National Fish Hatchery along a tributary of the Sacramento River in Shasta County, don’t normally truck any salmon, but this year will send about 950,000 fish. Kurtis Alexander, San Francisco Chronicle, "Drought-depleted rivers force salmon hatcheries to truck fish to sea," 28 Apr. 2021 At one time, the dam, which spans the Susquehanna River, a Chesapeake Bay tributary that flows between Harford and Cecil counties, trapped a significant amount of sediment and pollutants that would have flowed downstream. Christine Condon, baltimoresun.com, "Citing need to reduce nutrient sediment, environmental groups appeal new 50-year license for Conowingo Dam," 22 Apr. 2021 The Indian River is like an Amazon tributary, with slow-moving brackish water and thick vegetation on the banks. Michael Verdon, Robb Report, "How the Lush Caribbean Island of Dominica Became a Superyacht Haven," 18 Apr. 2021 Nevertheless, activists remain unhappy about Gehry’s approach to the project, preferring to return the tributary to its original state. New York Times, "‘What Would I Do?’ Frank Gehry, 92, Is Too Busy to Retire," 13 Apr. 2021 Hewed between two mountain ranges, the valley extends some 6 miles along a tributary of the Awali river. Nabih Bulos And Marcus Yam, Star Tribune, "Modern threats on ancient valley," 18 Mar. 2021 Chuck Ludlam braved the bitter cold with a sweater and scarf Friday morning, standing across from a cluster of embassies and a traffic island at the head of Rock Creek’s Melvin Hazen tributary. Washington Post, "A ‘city father’ tried to erase a Black neighborhood. Now the neighborhood wants to erase him.," 6 Mar. 2021 The property includes a tree canopy and Woodward Creek, a stream tributary of the Cuyahoga River. Robin Goist, cleveland, "Akron accepting bids for conserving Theiss Road property in Merriman Valley," 4 Dec. 2020 The renaming effort so far has focused on a tributary of the Blue River that runs through a golf course in tony Leawood and parts of south Overland Park in Johnson County, Kansas. NBC News, "Kansas county mulls changing creek’s racially loaded name," 29 Mar. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective After knocking his tee shot into the tributary Sunday that feeds into Rae’s Creek, Horschel tried to hit it out. Tim Reynolds, ajc, "Rahm closes with a 66, ends memorable Masters week," 11 Apr. 2021 After knocking his tee shot into the tributary Sunday that feeds into Rae's Creek, Horschel tried to hit it out. Tim Reynolds, Star Tribune, "Rahm closes with a 66, ends memorable Masters week," 11 Apr. 2021 But Zack Kelleher, riverkeeper for the Sassafras, a Chesapeake Bay tributary south of Conowingo, called the FERC’s decision particularly disappointing given the number of groups that advocated for stricter provisions. Washington Post, "New 50-year Conowingo Dam license gets federal okay," 31 Mar. 2021 But Zack Kelleher, riverkeeper for the Sassafras, a Chesapeake Bay tributary south of Conowingo, called FERC’s particularly disappointing given the number of groups that advocated for stricter provisions. Christine Condon, baltimoresun.com, "New 50-year Conowingo Dam license gets federal OK, but environmental groups worry it won’t do enough to stop pollution overflows," 26 Mar. 2021 From the coast, heavy rains will push the last remaining trout and reds out of the tributary areas north of I-10 down Mobile Bay. Frank Sargeant, al, "Friday fishing report for Alabama," 26 Mar. 2021 Much of it reaches the river through municipal storm drains and tributary streams. John Flesher, chicagotribune.com, "Mississippi River cities join project to map plastic pollution: ‘It’s literally choking our oceans’," 4 Mar. 2021 On Friday night, a falling branch took the tributary line with it. oregonlive, "In Oregon City, a high school turned emergency shelter offers respite," 19 Feb. 2021 Target transition areas—where a tributary flows into the main lake, for example, or a side channel rises onto shallow flats. Keith Sutton, Outdoor Life, "3 Ways to Catch Big Catfish Without a Rod and Reel," 24 Nov. 2020

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

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for tributary

Time Traveler

The first known use of tributary was in the 14th century

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Statistics for tributary

Last Updated

3 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tributary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tributary. Accessed 8 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for tributary

tributary

noun

English Language Learners Definition of tributary

: a stream that flows into a larger stream or river or into a lake

tributary

noun
trib·​u·​tary | \ ˈtri-byə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce tributary (audio) \
plural tributaries

Kids Definition of tributary

: a stream flowing into a larger stream or a lake The river has several tributaries.

tributary

noun
trib·​u·​tary | \ ˈtrib-yə-ˌter-ē How to pronounce tributary (audio) \
plural tributaries

Medical Definition of tributary

: a vein that empties into a larger vein

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Comments on tributary

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