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

Many of the cast members have made tributes to Luke on their social profiles since his passing. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Cole Sprouse Says the "Riverdale" Cast Is "Recovering" After Luke Perry's Death," 10 Mar. 2019 Hers, a tribute to her A Star Is Born character, featured a delicate, fine line rose right down her spinal cord. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Halle Berry Just Unveiled the Most Enormous Tattoo Right Down Her Back," 5 Mar. 2019 Many other famous moms did the same, including Gal Gadot and Kim Kardashian West, who posted tributes to both husband Kanye West and her late father, Robert Kardashian. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Celebs, TV shows, and more celebrate Father's Day," 17 June 2018 In the days following Raziwill's death, tributes have poured out, honoring the memory of the actress, style icon, and one-time American princess. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Lee Radziwill's Funeral Will Reportedly Take Place on Monday," 21 Feb. 2019 An emotional occasion, the Italian fashion house paid tribute to its late creative director in a series of touching ways throughout the show. Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gigi Hadid Closes Karl Lagerfeld's Last Fendi Show," 21 Feb. 2019 Following The Young and the Restless star’s shocking death at 52, many of his-costars and friends have paid tribute to the actor. Megan Stein, Country Living, "'The Talk' Host Sheryl Underwood Pays Tearful Tribute to Kristoff St. John," 5 Feb. 2019 In reality, the only person to whom Madonna paid tribute during her speech was Madonna. Andrea Park, Allure, "Madonna Is Being Slammed for Her Controversial Aretha Franklin Tribute at the 2018 VMAs," 21 Aug. 2018 As word of his passing spread Monday, tributes poured in from a cross-section of baseball, from his old colleagues to All-Stars such as Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner. USA TODAY, "Ken Ravizza, a titan in the mental side of baseball and mentor to Joe Maddon, dies at 70," 9 July 2018

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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Statistics for tribute

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tribute

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

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More Definitions for tribute



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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Comments on tribute

What made you want to look up tribute? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


grandiloquent, ostentatious, or bombastic

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