prov·​e·​nance | \ ˈpräv-nən(t)s How to pronounce provenance (audio) , ˈprä-və-ˌnän(t)s \

Definition of provenance

1 : origin, source
2 : the history of ownership of a valued object or work of art or literature

Examples of provenance in a Sentence

Has anyone traced the provenances of these paintings? The artifact is of unknown provenance.
Recent Examples on the Web That provenance isn’t particularly Dijonnaise, though, to be fair, Napa does grow a lot of mustard in its vineyards. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 7 Oct. 2021 The station's provenance is likely less well known. Alicia Ault, Smithsonian Magazine, 23 Aug. 2021 Yet, for his nondenominational congregation, the provenance of a lifesaving tool was not as obvious. Anchorage Daily News, 9 Aug. 2021 And, even when the provenance is clear, their future can be uncertain—according to Hischak, the toys are some of the trickiest ephemera the Gorey House handles. Casey Ce, The New Yorker, 12 July 2021 In the front seat is William, an assistant at CAA whose provenance is a bit of a mystery. E. Alex Jung, Vulture, 7 July 2021 The provenance of the object, the officials said, is still unknown. New York Times, 3 June 2021 Efforts to understand the virus' provenance have been complicated by Chinese authorities' steadfast refusal to allow a more intensive inquiry by international investigators., 24 Aug. 2021 The painting’s provenance – its history of ownership dating back to the Renaissance – was too murky. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, 12 Aug. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'provenance.' 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 provenance

1785, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for provenance

French, from provenir to come forth, originate, from Latin provenire, from pro- forth + venire to come — more at pro-, come

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Time Traveler for provenance

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The first known use of provenance was in 1785

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Last Updated

27 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Provenance.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of provenance

: the origin or source of something

More from Merriam-Webster on provenance

Nglish: Translation of provenance for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of provenance for Arabic Speakers


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