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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Hawn also paid tribute to Russell in a gushy Instagram post. Edward Segarra, USA TODAY, 20 June 2022 In honor of Father's Day, Lopez paid tribute to her fiancé in not one, but two heartfelt posts. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 20 June 2022 The Live host paid tribute to her husband Mark Consuelos on Father's Day by sharing a snap of the star with their two sons. Angela Andaloro,, 19 June 2022 Gruffudd also paid tribute to British writer Marston Bloom, who adapted Musso’s novel, alongside Gallonde. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 19 June 2022 Bob Saget's daughter Laura paid tribute to the late comedian on Father's Day. Jessica Wang,, 19 June 2022 To honor the night’s theme, co-chair Blake Lively wore an Atelier Versace gown that paid tribute to New York City, while Alicia Keys wore a luxe Ralph Lauren cape beaded and embroidered to depict the Manhattan skyline. Laurie Brookins, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 June 2022 Draymond Green — who showed his own resilience in this series after struggling early on — paid tribute to his longtime teammates — Curry and Thompson — during the Warriors’ championship celebration. Dj Siddiqi, Forbes, 17 June 2022 Both featured heavily in the fall 2022 collection, which paid tribute to Kikka’s uplifting energy and spirit. Alice Cary, Vogue, 17 June 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About tribute

Time Traveler for tribute

Time Traveler

The first known use of tribute was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Dictionary Entries Near tribute



tribute album

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for tribute

Last Updated

22 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Tribute.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for tribute


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

More from Merriam-Webster on tribute

Nglish: Translation of tribute for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of tribute for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about tribute


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!