tributary

noun
trib·​u·​tary | \ˈtri-byə-ˌter-ē \
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

affluent, bayou, branch, confluent, feeder, influent

Antonyms: Noun

distributary, effluent

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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

At the top of the list is the Big Sunflower River, a tributary of the Mississippi river that flows through the state of Mississippi. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "These Are America’s Ten Most Endangered Rivers," 12 Apr. 2018 Loaded: 0% Progress: 0% 0:00 / 1:38 Fly over Feather River in Northern California on a beautiful June day Advertisement The Feather River is the main tributary of the Sacramento River, originating in Lake Oroville. Julia Sclafani, sacbee, "Triple-digit weather is on the way – here's when we'll feel the heat in Sacramento," 18 June 2018 Main Street, where much of the flooding occured, is located in a valley surrounded by streams and tributaries running into the Patapsco River. baltimoresun.com, "Ellicott City flooding by the numbers," 29 May 2018 West-side Susitna tributaries draining from the Alaska Range, that include the Yentna drainage and Deshka River, fared better under restrictive regulations, achieving established escapement goals through 2016, but missed all goals in 2017. Sam Cotten, Anchorage Daily News, "Why the state decided to shut down or restrict king salmon fishing in the Susitna River drainage," 14 Mar. 2018 Coastal fall tributary seasons: Will be announced later this spring; however, there will be no wild coho fishing in north coast tributaries this year. Bill Monroe, OregonLive.com, "Salmon seasons set for Oregon Coast, Columbia River," 13 Apr. 2018 Aside from a few short tributaries hiding one of thousands of collectible trinkets, there's only one way to go at many points. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "God of War (2018): How to reinvent a beloved series without ruining what works," 12 Apr. 2018 On the Columbia River and its tributaries, 13 varieties of salmon and steelhead are protected under the Endangered Species Act. Ryan Sabalow, sacbee, "To protect salmon in the Columbia, will we have to kill more sea lions?," 6 July 2018 The bill has broad support from Democrats and Republicans in Oregon, Washington and Idaho, states through which the Columbia River and its major tributaries flow. Ryan Sabalow, sacbee, "To protect salmon in the Columbia, will we have to kill more sea lions?," 6 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Each tributary canyon is unique, with dramatic shapes, and vivid colors. Jill K. Robinson, San Francisco Chronicle, "Top 10 California parks: Little known wonders," 9 May 2018 Coastal fall tributary seasons: Will be announced later this spring; however, there will be no wild coho fishing in north coast tributaries this year. Bill Monroe, OregonLive.com, "Salmon seasons set for Oregon Coast, Columbia River," 13 Apr. 2018 The owners of this 10,000-acre property purchased it on an impulse, then built a house situated on the rimrock of a tributary canyon. Wsj Real Estate, WSJ, "Going Up? Incline Elevators Help Hillside Homeowners," 10 Aug. 2017 At Lewis Smith, best bet is to look for striped bass making spawning runs up the tributary rivers--the fish migrate from early March to early April before returning to the depths of the lake for the rest of the year. Frank Sargeant, AL.com, "Friday Fishing Report," 15 Mar. 2018 Testing of the tributary waters that feed the lake has been scaled back; a public water quality board folded; a real-time chemical spill monitoring system in the St. Clair River shuttered through neglect and disinterest. Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Lake St. Clair: Beach closures, 'nasty stuff' in the water, a problem that doesn't get fixed," 29 Sep. 2017 But in China’s case, that pushback comes not just from the West but also from neighbors who remember the tributary system of its imperial past — or are wary of its Communist political system despite its embrace of capitalism decades ago. Jane Perlez, New York Times, "Xi Jinping Pushes China’s Global Rise Despite Friction and Fear," 22 Oct. 2017 At Lewis Smith, stripers continue the gradual move away from the dam and up into the tributary arms, particularly Rock Creek, Brushy Creek and the Sipsey River areas. Frank Sargeant, AL.com, "Friday Fishing Report," 20 Oct. 2017 Testing of the tributary waters that feed the lake has been scaled back Keith Matheny, Detroit Free Press, "Lake St. Clair: Beach closures, 'nasty stuff' in the water, a problem that doesn't get fixed," 29 Sep. 2017

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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Statistics for tributary

Last Updated

7 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tributary

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

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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 \
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 \
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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