[verb uh-trib-yoot; noun a-truh-byoot]
See more synonyms for attribute on
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 mode1(def 4b).
  6. Logic. (in a proposition) that which is affirmed or denied concerning the subject.
  7. Obsolete. distinguished character; reputation.

Origin of attribute

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 formsat·trib·ut·a·ble, adjectiveat·trib·ut·er, at·trib·u·tor, nounmis·at·trib·ute, verb, mis·at·trib·ut·ed, mis·at·trib·ut·ing.non·at·trib·ut·a·ble, adjectivere·at·trib·ute, verb (used with object), re·at·trib·ut·ed, re·at·trib·ut·ing.un·at·trib·ut·a·ble, adjectiveun·at·trib·ut·a·bly, adverbun·at·trib·ut·ed, adjectivewell-at·trib·ut·ed, adjective

Synonym study

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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for attributed

trace, associate, blame, credit, connect, apply, refer, charge, impute, lay, reference, accredit

Examples from the Web for attributed

Contemporary Examples of attributed

Historical Examples of attributed

  • The breaking of Hope's engagement to Philip was attributed to every cause but the true one.


    Thomas Wentworth Higginson

  • (a) To what may the high food value of potatoes be attributed?

    Woman's Institute Library of Cookery, Vol. 2

    Woman's Institute of Domestic Arts and Sciences

  • Yet another trait is attributed to Jaques, which we must on no account forget.

  • And just this same quality of pride is attributed to the "dark lady."

  • Quite egotistically she attributed to herself the trend of his friendship.


    W. A. Fraser

British Dictionary definitions for attributed


verb (əˈtrɪbjuːt)
  1. (tr usually foll by to) to regard as belonging (to), produced (by), or resulting (from); ascribe (to)to attribute a painting to Picasso
noun (ˈætrɪˌbjuːt)
  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
Derived Formsattributable, adjectiveattributer or attributor, nounattribution (ˌætrɪˈbjuːʃən), noun

Word Origin for attribute

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

Word Origin and History for attributed



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