View synonyms for attribute


[ verb uh-trib-yoot; noun a-truh-byoot ]

verb (used with object)

, at·trib·ut·ed, at·trib·ut·ing.
  1. 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.

  2. to consider as a quality or characteristic of the person, thing, group, etc., indicated:

    He attributed intelligence to his colleagues.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.


  1. something attributed as belonging to a person, thing, group, etc.; a quality, character, characteristic, or property:

    Sensitivity is one of his attributes.

  2. something used as a symbol of a particular person, office, or status:

    A scepter is one of the attributes of a king.

  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Philosophy. (in the philosophy of Spinoza) any of the essential qualifications of God, thought and extension being the only ones known. Compare mode 1( def 4b ).
  6. Logic. (in a proposition) that which is affirmed or denied concerning the subject.
  7. Obsolete. distinguished character; reputation.


/ ˌætrɪˈbjuːʃən /


  1. trusually foll byto to regard as belonging (to), produced (by), or resulting (from); ascribe (to)

    to attribute a painting to Picasso

“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


  1. a property, quality, or feature belonging to or representative of a person or thing
  2. an object accepted as belonging to a particular office or position
  3. grammar
    1. an adjective or adjectival phrase
    2. an attributive adjective
  4. logic the property, quality, or feature that is affirmed or denied concerning the subject of a proposition
“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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Derived Forms

  • atˈtributable, adjective
  • atˈtributer, noun
  • attribution, noun
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Other Words From

  • at·trib·ut·a·ble adjective
  • at·trib·ut·er at·trib·u·tor noun
  • mis·at·trib·ute verb misattributed misattributing
  • re·at·trib·ute verb (used with object) reattributed reattributing
  • un·at·trib·ut·a·bly adverb
  • un·at·trib·ut·ed adjective
  • well-at·trib·ut·ed adjective
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Word History and Origins

Origin of attribute1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Latin attribūtus “allotted, assigned, imputed to” (past participle of attribuere ), equivalent to at- “toward” + tribū- (stem of tribuere “to assign (to tribes), classify, ascribe”; at-, tribe ) + -tus past participle suffix
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Word History and Origins

Origin of attribute1

C15: from Latin attribuere to associate with, from tribuere to give
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Synonym Study

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. See quality.
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Example Sentences

According to this rule, as a result of the measurement, the state jumps into one of the states where the attribute in question has a well-defined value.

Dresses are certainly not taken as seriously as traditional sporting attire, despite their objectively positive attributes, like breathability and mobility.

Spend time on research and check out the attributes available to your business category in Google My Business, and simply spend a bit of time searching your competitors to see how they’re adapting.

With this attribute, you don’t have to create separate feeds for each country in order to control which products show where.

For example, the URL I inspected in Bing showed issues with meta language tags being missing and alt attributes for images missing.

We attribute his successes or failures to the presence or lack of some special sauce that he does or does not possess.

Sure, Nancy has the fish-out-of-water thing going on, but that attribute often defines Piper.

On the other hand, he has retained an attribute reminiscent of the other ex-fundies.

We attribute no special merit to a man for having served when all were serving.

Military officials attribute the rise, to programs that have encouraged more victims to come forward and report their assaults.

The Marshals were inclined to attribute their disgrace to the ill-will of Berthier and not to the temper of Napoleon.

This I attribute to the potash being in a little more caustic condition than when recrystallised with iodine.

They attribute this in part to the excellence of their soil and partly to the abundance of birds and yellow jackets.

At first geologists were disposed to attribute all the phenomena of mountain-folding to the progressive cooling of the earth.

To attribute to Douglas lack of 'strength of purpose' is to miss the whole significance of his career.