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[v. uh-trib-yoot; n. a-truh-byoot] /v. əˈtrɪb yut; n. ˈæ trəˌbyut/
verb (used with object), attributed, attributing.
to regard as resulting from a specified cause; consider as caused by something indicated (usually followed by to):
She attributed his bad temper to ill health.
to consider as a quality or characteristic of the person, thing, group, etc., indicated:
He attributed intelligence to his colleagues.
to consider as made by the one indicated, especially with strong evidence but in the absence of conclusive proof:
to attribute a painting to an artist.
to regard as produced by or originating in the time, period, place, etc., indicated; credit; assign:
to attribute a work to a particular period; to attribute a discovery to a particular country.
something attributed as belonging to a person, thing, group, etc.; a quality, character, characteristic, or property:
Sensitivity is one of his attributes.
something used as a symbol of a particular person, office, or status:
A scepter is one of the attributes of a king.
Grammar. a word or phrase that is syntactically subordinate to another and serves to limit, identify, particularize, describe, or supplement the meaning of the form with which it is in construction. In the red house, red is an attribute of house.
Fine Arts. an object associated with or symbolic of a character, office, or quality, as the keys of St. Peter or the lion skin of Hercules.
Philosophy. (in the philosophy of Spinoza) any of the essential qualifications of God, thought and extension being the only ones known.
Compare mode1 (def 4b).
Logic. (in a proposition) that which is affirmed or denied concerning the subject.
Obsolete. distinguished character; reputation.
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin attribūtus allotted, assigned, imputed to (past participle of attribuere), equivalent to at- at- + tribū- (stem of tribuere to assign (to tribes), classify, ascribe; see tribe) + -tus past participle suffix
Related forms
attributable, adjective
attributer, attributor, noun
misattribute, verb, misattributed, misattributing.
nonattributable, adjective
reattribute, verb (used with object), reattributed, reattributing.
unattributable, adjective
unattributably, adverb
unattributed, adjective
well-attributed, adjective
1. Attribute, ascribe, impute imply definite origin. Attribute and ascribe are often used interchangeably, to imply that something originates with a definite person or from a definite cause. Ascribe, however, has neutral implications; whereas, possibly because of an association with tribute, attribute is coming to have a complimentary connotation: to ascribe an accident to carelessness; to attribute one's success to a friend's encouragement. Impute has gained uncomplimentary connotations, and usually means to accuse or blame someone or something as a cause or origin: to impute an error to him. 5. See quality. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for attribute
  • In other words, if a gator and a bird have the same feature or physical attribute, the likelihood is that dinosaurs shared it too.
  • Schizophrenics have trouble recognizing their own actions-that is, they often attribute their behavior to an alien source.
  • To that writer about how to construct, source, attribute a factual article.
  • Minor league officials refuse to attribute the decline to a decrease in fan interest.
  • Bulls attribute this to global growth, especially in the emerging world; bears cite a desire for inflation hedges.
  • The researchers attribute the trend to a strengthening of support for science in general.
  • The idea is to establish an artist's “handwriting” to help experts attribute paintings.
  • Another frightening attribute is their ability to solve problems and evolve.
  • I'll properly attribute your contribution when I can properly present the news.
  • Aristotle defined substance as that which possesses attributes but is itself the attribute of nothing.
British Dictionary definitions for attribute


verb (əˈtrɪbjuːt)
(transitive) usually foll by to. to regard as belonging (to), produced (by), or resulting (from); ascribe (to): to attribute a painting to Picasso
noun (ˈætrɪˌbjuːt)
a property, quality, or feature belonging to or representative of a person or thing
an object accepted as belonging to a particular office or position
  1. an adjective or adjectival phrase
  2. an attributive adjective
(logic) the property, quality, or feature that is affirmed or denied concerning the subject of a proposition
Derived Forms
attributable, adjective
attributer, attributor, noun
attribution (ˌætrɪˈbjuːʃən) noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin attribuere to associate with, from tribuere to give
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for attribute

late 14c., "assign, bestow," from Latin attributus, past participle of attribuere "assign to, add, bestow;" figuratively "to attribute, ascribe, impute," from ad- "to" + tribuere "assign, give, bestow" (see tribute). Related: Attributed; attributing.


"quality ascribed to someone," late 14c., from Latin attributum "anything attributed," noun use of neuter of attributus (see attribute (v.)). Distinguished from the verb by pronunciation.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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attribute in Technology

A named value or relationship that exists for some or all instances of some entity and is directly associated with that instance.
Examples include the href attribute of an HTML anchor element, the columns of a database table considered as attributes of each row, and the members (properties and methods of an object in OOP. This contrasts with the contents of some kind of container (e.g. an array), which are typically not named. The contents of an associative array, though they might be considered to be named by their key values, are not normally thought of as attributes.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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