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 Within hours, Ionescu would be back on the court, her own fierce competitiveness serving as a different kind of tribute. Ann Killion,, "Before Stanford showdown, Sabrina Ionescu speaks with passion at Bryant memorial," 24 Feb. 2020 The evening, as promised, served as the emotional culmination of a days-long Windy City tribute to Kobe Bryant, the former All-Star killed in a helicopter crash last month. Marc Stein, New York Times, "Feisty All-Star Finish a Fitting Tribute to Bryant," 17 Feb. 2020 The power couple made that abundantly clear with a pair of gushy Instagram tributes to each other on Valentine's day. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel Gush About Each Other in Valentine's Day Instagram Posts," 15 Feb. 2020 That’s kind of a tribute to the culture of the program. oregonlive, "Oregon State offensive coordinator Brian Lindgren talks spring practice competition with quarterbacks, a fast but small receiver room: Q and A," 7 Feb. 2020 Vanessa's simple but poignant show of love is one of many tributes to the athlete. Ineye Komonibo,, "Vanessa Bryant Shares Tribute To Her “Best Friend” & The “Best Daddy”," 6 Feb. 2020 Grandpa Verbrugge died at the start of the 1971 season, and after that the tickets became a kind of tribute to him. Kevin Helliker, WSJ, "From Dawson to Mahomes—One Family’s 53-Year Chiefs Journey," 2 Feb. 2020 Public relations firms are paid to craft campaigns to preserve team names as tradition or some kind of perverse tribute. Nick Martin, The New Republic, "There’s Nothing More American Than Native Mascots," 29 Jan. 2020 Franklin, who was part of the tribute for the late Nipsey Hussle, admitted. Essence, "Kirk Franklin Gives Amazing Advice On How To Grieve After Kobe Bryant's Sudden Death," 28 Jan. 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

15 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tribute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Mar. 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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