trib·​ute | \ ˈtri-(ˌ)byüt How to pronounce tribute (audio) , -byət \

Definition of tribute

1a : something given or contributed voluntarily as due or deserved especially : a gift or service showing respect, gratitude, or affection a floral tribute
b : 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
2a : 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 payment
b(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 coercion
c : the liability to pay tribute

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Choose the Right Synonym for tribute

encomium, eulogy, panegyric, tribute, citation mean a formal expression of praise. encomium implies enthusiasm and warmth in praising a person or a thing. received encomiums from literary critics eulogy applies to a prepared speech or writing extolling the virtues and services of a person. delivered the eulogy at the funeral service panegyric suggests an elaborate often poetic compliment. her lyrical memoir was a panegyric to her mentor tribute implies deeply felt praise conveyed either through words or through a significant act. the concert was a musical tribute to the early jazz masters citation applies to the formal praise of a person offered in a military dispatch or in awarding an honorary degree. earned a citation for bravery

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.

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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Today it is known by the scientific name Gagadon minimonstrum—a tribute to shape-shifting pop star Lady Gaga and her fans, the Little Monsters. Henry Hitchings, WSJ, "‘Charles Darwin’s Barnacle and David Bowie’s Spider’ Review: The Smile of Linnaeus," 26 Mar. 2020 The 1993 series, sweetened by poignancy, humor, mystery and tributes to Maupin hero Alfred Hitchcock, is seen through the eyes of a newcomer, Mary Ann Singleton (Laura Linney). Jeanne Jakle,, "Jeanne Jakle: ‘Mad Men,’ ‘Mrs. Maisel’ and more TV shows to take you away while you’re stuck at home," 25 Mar. 2020 The most important reason for selection should be that the funeral home offers a meaningful and affordable tribute to your love one. USA TODAY, "How to choose a funeral home," 25 Mar. 2020 His death has led to an outpouring of tributes online. Tim Carman,, "Floyd Cardoz, the influential Indian American chef behind the groundbreaking Tabla, dies of complications from covid-19," 25 Mar. 2020 On what would have been Aretha Franklin's 78th birthday, the late singer is getting tributes from some of the key folks keeping her legacy alive onscreen. Brian Mccollum, Detroit Free Press, "Aretha Franklin 78th birthday wishes: Jennifer Hudson, 'Respect,' 'Genius' pay tribute," 25 Mar. 2020 His death has led to an outpouring of tributes online. Tim Carman, Washington Post, "Floyd Cardoz, the influential Indian American chef behind the groundbreaking Tabla, dies of complications from covid-19," 25 Mar. 2020 Roger had also led his Midshipmen to victory in the last Army-Navy game former PT-109 skipper John F. Kennedy would ever witness, and the first after his death, a tribute to a fallen president. Kevin Sherrington, Dallas News, "'He’s right up there with the best’: As the standard for Cowboys QBs, Roger Staubach’s take on Dak Prescott is telling," 10 Mar. 2020 On TIME’s new 100 Women of the Year list, a tribute to 100 women who defined the last century, many of the influential women were heads of state of other countries. Charlotte Alter, Time, "Other Countries Have Elected Women Leaders for Decades. Why Can't America?," 7 Mar. 2020

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

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2a

History and Etymology for tribute

Middle English tribut, from Latin tributum, from neuter of tributus, past participle of tribuere to allot, bestow, grant, pay, from tribus tribe

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Time Traveler for tribute

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tribute

Last Updated

29 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tribute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for tribute


How to pronounce tribute (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of tribute

: 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


trib·​ute | \ ˈtri-byüt How to pronounce tribute (audio) \

Kids Definition of tribute

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

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