attribute 1 of 2

as in to ascribe
to explain (something) as being the result of something else attributed the quick rescue to the well-trained police force

Synonyms & Similar Words

as in to explain
to give the reason for or cause of a psychotherapist who's a little too quick to attribute every emotional problem or character defect to an unhappy childhood

Synonyms & Similar Words


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Synonym Chooser

How is the word attribute different from other verbs like it?

Some common synonyms of attribute are ascribe, assign, credit, and impute. While all these words mean "to lay something to the account of a person or thing," attribute suggests less tentativeness than ascribe, less definiteness than assign.

attributed to Rembrandt but possibly done by an associate

When might ascribe be a better fit than attribute?

The words ascribe and attribute are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, ascribe suggests an inferring or conjecturing of cause, quality, authorship.

forged paintings formerly ascribed to masters

In what contexts can assign take the place of attribute?

While in some cases nearly identical to attribute, assign implies ascribing with certainty or after deliberation.

assigned the bones to the Cretaceous period

Where would credit be a reasonable alternative to attribute?

The words credit and attribute can be used in similar contexts, but credit implies ascribing a thing or especially an action to a person or other thing as its agent, source, or explanation.

credited his teammates for his success

When is impute a more appropriate choice than attribute?

Although the words impute and attribute have much in common, impute suggests ascribing something that brings discredit by way of accusation or blame.

tried to impute sinister motives to my actions

Thesaurus Entries Near attribute

Cite this Entry

“Attribute.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 Jun. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on attribute

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