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 Hot air balloons will take to the sky in a special tribute to the Great Balloon Race. Gege Reed, The Courier-Journal, "Your complete schedule of 2021 Kentucky Derby Festival events: Parade, marathon & more," 8 Apr. 2021 But for a long moment on Thursday, the focus seemed to be on enveloping Elder in a tribute. New York Times, "At the Masters, Lee Elder Gets Another Moment in the Spotlight," 8 Apr. 2021 After winning last year's Astor Cup, Scott Dixon and Chip Ganassi Racing own the right to run the No.1 car in 2021, but Ganassi was happy to loan use of the number for the 500 to aid in the tribute. Nathan Brown, The Indianapolis Star, "J.R. Hildebrand joins Foyt for Indy 500 tribute ride to A.J. Foyt's first 500 win in 1961," 8 Apr. 2021 The jersey hung all season in tribute to goalie Dustin Falling, who died in a car accident last June after his sophomore year. Staff Reports, Star Tribune, "Gentry Academy a lot like high-scoring Rochester John Marshall, Holy Angels teams of past," 31 Mar. 2021 The University of Colorado Boulder Police Department is also taking part in the tribute, according to a tweet from Boulder police. Konstantin Toropin And Leah Asmelash, CNN, "Police in Boulder have put the names of the 10 grocery store shooting victims on their patrol cars," 30 Mar. 2021 The textiles, which are made from fibers including cotton, wool, acrylic and polyester, were produced in Belgium in tribute to the country’s centuries-old weaving traditions. Liam Freeman, Vogue, "Cindy Sherman on Her First Ever Non-Photographic Works," 25 Mar. 2021 Biden also ordered flags at the White House and federal buildings to fly at half staff in a tribute to the victims., "Biden calls for assault weapons ban as he mourns lives lost in Colorado, Georgia," 23 Mar. 2021 Watch the video below featuring a special cast reunion of the beloved sitcom, all in tribute to the late Jerry Stiller, who had a lasting impact on the show as ornery Arthur. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Watch The King of Queens reunion honoring Jerry Stiller," 12 Mar. 2021

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

11 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Tribute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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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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