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

The caption of the post pays tribute to royal family fans who have sent their well wishes to William and Kate on their anniversary. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Prince William and Kate Middleton Celebrate Their Wedding Anniversary With a Sweet Instagram Post," 29 Apr. 2019 William, who is currently in New Zealand to pay tribute to all those affected by the Christchurch Terror Attack, was quizzed by a well-wisher as to whether there was any updates on the arrival of his future niece or nephew. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Prince William Gave the Funniest Response When Asked if Baby Sussex Had Arrived Yet," 29 Apr. 2019 Prince William is currently visiting New Zealand to pay tribute to all those affected by the Christchurch terror attack. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William Was Reportedly Asked When the Royal Baby Is Due and His Response Was Hilarious," 27 Apr. 2019 Prior to the episode, cast and crew involved with the series had paid tribute to their costar, sharing social media messages that noted his impact. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Luke Perry's Last "Riverdale" Episode Comes Out This Week," 22 Apr. 2019 This year, pay tribute to those who earned our freedom with a patriotic Instagram caption for Memorial Day. Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "25+ Best Memorial Day Instagram Captions for All Your Patriotic Photos," 19 Apr. 2019 The doc takes us all inside the preparation for her iconic 2018 Coachella performance, a tribute to the historically black colleges and universities in America. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Beyoncé Just Dropped a Surprise Live Album, and People Are Freaking Out," 17 Apr. 2019 Ahead of the broadcast, cast members including Emilia Clarke, Lena Headey, Sophie Turner, and more celebrated the new episode with behind-the-scenes photos and Instagram tributes. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Game of Thrones Cast Is Freaking Out About Season 8 on Instagram," 14 Apr. 2019 Officially launching on April 13th, the line includes Moschino couture items that feature design tributes to all things Sims. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Moschino Created a "Sims"-Inspired Capsule Collection," 11 Apr. 2019

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

11 May 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).


something valued as if it were money

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