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Ascribe vs attribute

Ascribe means to designate something as a cause of a situation. Ascribe may also mean to credit a quote or piece of art to a particular period or a particular person. Ascribe also means to assign a particular quality to an idea or a situation. Ascribe is a verb, related words are ascribes, ascribed, ascribing, ascribable. Ascribe is derived from the Old French ascrivre which means to inscribe, to attribute.

Attribute also means to designate something as a cause of a situation, to credit a quote or piece of art to a particular period or a particular person, to assign a particular quality to an idea or a situation. Attribute may be used as a verb or noun, when used as a noun attribute means a characteristic that is a part of someone’s or something’s makeup. When used as a noun, attribute is pronounced with the stress on the first syllable. Related words are attributes, attributed, attributing, attribution. Attribute is derived from the Latin word attributus, which means add, assign to. Remember, when used as a verb ascribe and attribute are interchangeable, though the word attribute is much more common.


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Examples

Americans tend to ascribe to other countries the best of our own values: tolerance, equal opportunity, rule of law, freedoms of speech and religion, and separation of church and state. (The Wall Street Journal)

“She seemed scared, which is not an emotion we ascribe to Marie very often.” (The Journal News)

And the people they hire are not burdened by endless interruptions — something they ascribe to offices. (The Business Insider Australia)

The Speaker of the Council of the Nation Abdelkader Bensalah said Thursday, in Istanbul (Turkey), that Algeria rejects all attempts to attribute the phenomenon of terrorism to a precise geographical, civilizational or religious space, recalling that the Muslim people are the “primary victims” of this scourge. (Algerie Presse Service)

It’s tough not to attribute the sales struggles, at least partially, to the diesel emissions cheating scandal that Volkswagen was embroiled in just before the slump started last fall. (New York Daily News)

It doesn’t matter how sparkling a woman’s smile is or how lovely her eyes – a cinched-in waist is the most attractive female attribute, a study has found. (The Daily Mail)

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