Definition of attributive in English:



  • (of an adjective or other modifier) preceding the word that it modifies and expressing an attribute, as old in the old dog (but not in the dog is old) and expiry in expiry date.

    • ‘Word combination often leads to strings of adjectives and attributive nouns, a style that began in Time magazine in the 1920s, with the aim of providing impact and ‘colour’.’
    • ‘In his introduction to the book, the 6th word is an attributive adjective.’
    • ‘When we use the expression a London Fog raincoat, we use London Fog as an attributive modifier of the noun raincoat.’
    • ‘‘Fast’ and ‘big’ are what Geach has called attributive adjectives; ‘brown’ is called a predicative adjective.’


Mid 18th century (as a noun in the sense ‘a word expressing an attribute’): from French attributif, -ive, from attribut ‘an attribute’, from Latin attribuere ‘add to’ (see attribute).