noun, plural tributaries.
a stream that flows to a larger stream or other body of water.
a person or nation that pays tribute in acknowledgment of subjugation or the like.
(of a stream) flowing into a larger stream or other body of water.
furnishing subsidiary aid; contributory.
paying or required to pay tribute.
paid as tribute.
subject; subordinate: a tributary nation.

1325–75; Middle English (adj. and noun) < Latin tribūtārius of tribute, one who pays tribute. See tribute, -ary

tributarily, adverb
nontributary, adjective
untributarily, adverb
untributary, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
tributary (ˈtrɪbjʊtərɪ, -trɪ)
n , pl -taries
1.  a stream, river, or glacier that feeds another larger one
2.  a person, nation, or people that pays tribute
3.  (of a stream, etc) feeding a larger stream
4.  given or owed as a tribute
5.  paying tribute

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin & History

late 14c., "paying tribute," from L. tributarius "liable to tax or tribute," from tributum (see tribute). The noun sense of "one who pays tribute" is recorded from early 15c. Meaning "stream that flows into a larger body" is from 1822, from the adj., which is recorded from 1610s in this sense.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Science Dictionary
tributary   (trĭb'yə-těr'ē)  Pronunciation Key 
A stream that flows into a river, a larger stream, or a lake.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences
Heavy metals from the old mines that dot the watershed have seeped directly
  into the river or its tributaries.
On maps it seemed to appear out of nowhere, welling inexplicably from the
  ground with no tributaries or side canyons.
Its tributaries are some laryngeal veins, and occasionally a small thyroid vein.
The superficial veins of the lower extremity are the great and small saphenous
  veins and their tributaries.
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