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 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 The plant discharges it into the Transquaking River, a tributary of the Chesapeake Bay. Christine Condon, baltimoresun.com, "$13M in Maryland taxpayer money headed to Eastern Shore factory with water pollution woes, outraging some lawmakers," 11 Mar. 2021 Hewed between two mountain ranges, the valley extends some six miles along a tributary of the Awali river. Los Angeles Times, "Climate change and corruption endanger an ancient valley in Lebanon," 21 Feb. 2021 The county is named for Limestone Creek, a Tennessee River tributary that flows over a bed of limestone. Ashley Remkus | Aremkus@al.com, al, "What is wrong with Alabama’s fastest growing county?," 26 Feb. 2021 One theory suggests that falling debris temporarily dammed a tributary of the Rishi Ganga. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Deadly Himalayan Flood Shows Perils of Mountain Warming," 10 Feb. 2021 Brooke said that any negative impacts from a quarry in that area could be felt in all three rivers, but that Turkey Creek, a Black Warrior tributary, receives most of the runoff from the area. Dennis Pillion | Dpillion@al.com, al, "Tallest peak in Jefferson County targeted for mining, neighbors fight back," 26 Oct. 2020 The wetlands are known as headwaters because Chippewa Creek, a tributary of the Cuyahoga River, originates there. Bob Sandrick, cleveland, "North Royalton grants conservation easement to West Creek Conservancy to preserve new Chippewa Creek Headwaters Park," 16 Dec. 2020 The previous owner had owned rights to the Chalk River, a tributary of the Arkansas, which irrigated the hayfields using ditches that dated from the Civil War. New York Times, "Wall Street Eyes Billions in the Colorado’s Water," 3 Jan. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective 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 Warmer conditions are eroding the flows of the tributary streams as vegetation draws more water and as more moisture evaporates off the landscape. Ian James, AZCentral.com, "Climate's toll on the Colorado River: 'We can weather maybe a couple of years'," 1 Jan. 2021 Baldwin Creek and two headwater tributary streams run through the preserve, and the area is a habitat for many plant and animal species. Rich Heileman, cleveland, "Brook Park business owner honored for pandemic response: Around The Town," 13 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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tributary.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tributary. Accessed 13 Apr. 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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