noun trib·ute \ ˈtri-(ˌ)byüt , -byət \
|Updated on: 3 Aug 2018

Definition of tribute

1 a : 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
2 a : 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

Examples of tribute in a Sentence

  1. The concert was a tribute to the musician.

  2. Yellow ribbons were tied on trees as a tribute to the soldiers at war.

  3. an event at which artists and musicians paid tribute to the famous composer

  4. The country was forced to pay tribute.

  5. The ruler paid a tribute every year.

Recent Examples of tribute from the Web

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.

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

Synonym Discussion of 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

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


noun trib·ute \ ˈtri-byüt \

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

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