To relate to a particular cause or source; ascribe: attributed their failure to a lack of preparation. To regard as the work of a specified agent, place, or time: attributed the painting to Titian; attributed the vase to 18th-century Japan. A quality or characteristic inherent in or ascribed to someone or something. An object associated with and serving to identify a character, personage, or office: Lightning bolts are an attribute of Zeus. Grammar A word or phrase syntactically subordinate to another word or phrase that it modifies; for example, my sister's and brown in my sister's brown dog.