Meaning of ATTRIBUTE in English


I. at·tri·bute ˈa.trəˌbyüt, usu -üd.+V noun

( -s )

Etymology: Middle English, from Latin attributus, past participle of attribuere to attribute, from ad- + tribuere to bestow — more at tribute

1. : a quality, character, or characteristic ascribed usually commonly:

a. : a characteristic either essential and intrinsic or accidental and concomitant

to endow her with all the attributes of a mythological paragon upon Olympus — Elinor Wylie

b. : a quality intrinsic, inherent, naturally belonging to a thing or person

not in spiritual nor even in moral attributes — G.L.Dickinson

2. : an object closely associated with and thought of as belonging to a specific person, thing, or office

a scepter is the attribute of power

all his attributes are here — ring, cigarette case, tiepin, cane — Osbert Sitwell

especially : such an accessory object used for identification or association in painting or sculpture (as a club for Hercules)


a. logic : any quality or characteristic that may be predicated of some subject — compare predicate

b. philosophy : a necessary or essential quality or characteristic of substance — compare cartesianism , spinozism


a. : a word ascribing a quality ; especially : adjective , adjective equivalent

b. : that one of the two immediate constituents of an endocentric compound or construction that does not have the same grammatical function as the whole (as this in this paper, completely in completely new, black in blackbird ) — opposed to head

5. : any one of the ways (as intensity, duration, or quality) in which one sensation, image, or feeling can differ from another

Synonyms: see quality , symbol

II. at·trib·ute ə.ˈtribyət also -i(ˌ)byüt, chiefly substand -_bə̇t; usu -d.+V transitive verb

( attributed -yəd.ə̇d, -yətə̇d ; attributed “ ; attributing -yəd.iŋ, -yətiŋ ; attributes -yəts also -yüts)

Etymology: Latin attributus

1. archaic : to bestow as a right

2. : to explain as caused or brought about by : regard as occurring in consequence of or on account of

the collapse of the movement can be attributed to lack of morale

3. : to regard as possessed, owned, originated, characterized, or described as indicated: as

a. : to reckon as a quality, characteristic, or trait possessed sometimes fitly or properly

Delia reproached herself for attributing feelings of jealousy to her cousin — Edith Wharton

b. : to reckon as executed, made, originated, or achieved as indicated

attributed the invention to a Russian

c. : classify , designate , date

a manuscript attributed to the 10th century

Synonyms: see ascribe

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.