Definition of tribute
1a : a payment by one ruler or nation to another in acknowledgment of submission or as the price of protection; also : the tax levied for such a paymentb (1) : an excessive tax, rental, or tariff imposed by a government, sovereign, lord, or landlord (2) : an exorbitant charge levied by a person or group having the power of coercionc : the liability to pay tribute
2a : something given or contributed voluntarily as due or deserved; especially : a gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection a floral tributeb : something (such as material evidence or a formal attestation) that indicates the worth, virtue, or effectiveness of the one in question the design is a tribute to his ingenuity
Examples of tribute in a sentence
The concert was a tribute to the musician.
Yellow ribbons were tied on trees as a tribute to the soldiers at war.
an event at which artists and musicians paid tribute to the famous composer
The country was forced to pay tribute.
The ruler paid a tribute every year.
Did You Know?
Tribute originally took the form of things given from a weaker group to the dominant power of a region—a bit like the "protection money" the Mafia gets from small businesses after making them offers they can't refuse, though the older form of tribute actually did buy the weaker group some protection from enemy forces. Tribute could come in the form of valuables, cattle, or even produce, and might include the loan of warriors to strengthen the ruler's army. But when we "pay tribute" today, it's generally in the form of praise. And when we say, for instance, that a successful school "is a tribute to" the vision of its founder, we mean that its success is itself a form of praise for the person who founded it. And a "tribute band" is a rock group intended to honor a great band of the past.
Origin and Etymology of tribute
Middle English tribut, from Latin tributum, from neuter of tributus, past participle of tribuere to allot, bestow, grant, pay, from tribus tribe
First Known Use: 14th century
Synonym Discussion of tribute
TRIBUTE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of tribute for English Language Learners
: something that you say, give, or do to show respect or affection for someone
: something that proves the good quality or effectiveness of something
: money or goods that a ruler or country gives to another ruler or country especially for protection
TRIBUTE Defined for Kids
Definition of tribute for Students
1 : something done, said, or given to show respect, gratitude, or affection
2 : a payment made by one ruler or state to another especially to gain peace
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up tribute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).