pertaining to or having the character of attribution or an attribute.
Grammar. of or relating to an adjective or noun that is directly adjacent to, in English usually preceding, the noun it modifies, without any intervening linking verb, as the adjective sunny in a sunny day or the noun television in a television screen.


Grammar. an attributive word, especially an adjective.

Origin of attributive

First recorded in 1600–10
Related formsat·trib·u·tive·ly, adverbat·trib·u·tive·ness, nounnon·at·trib·u·tive, adjectivenon·at·trib·u·tive·ly, adverbnon·at·trib·u·tive·ness, nounun·at·trib·u·tive, adjectiveun·at·trib·u·tive·ly, adverbun·at·trib·u·tive·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for attributive

Historical Examples of attributive

  • In other words, let the bodies be regarded as attributive and the forces as substantive.

    The Approach to Philosophy

    Ralph Barton Perry

  • Like other Participles it may be used either as Attributive or Predicate.

    New Latin Grammar

    Charles E. Bennett

  • In such an interpretation nearly all the attributive features of these witnesses are ignored.

  • We will notice the attributive features of these witnesses as they are related by John in this chapter—that is, Rev. xi.

  • Attributive adjectives and adverbs, and their equivalents, are placed before nouns and verbs they modify.

    The Japanese Spirit

    Yoshisaburo Okakura

British Dictionary definitions for attributive



relating to an attribute
grammar (of an adjective or adjectival phrase) modifying a noun and constituting part of the same noun phrase, in English normally preceding the noun, as black in Fido is a black dog (as opposed to Fido is black)Compare predicative
philosophy relative to an understood domain, as small in that elephant is small


an attributive adjective
Derived Formsattributively, adverbattributiveness, noun
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 attributive

c.1600, from French attributif, from stem of Latin attributus (see attribute (v.)). As a noun, in grammar, from 1750. Related: Attributively; attributiveness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper