Definition - A word, such as an adjective, that is used to describe a quality of a person or a thing.
Note: Adverbs are not attributes because they describe actions or activities not things.

Example -
The old in the phrase the old man.

Etymology -
The word ultimately derives from the Latin tribuere, assign.

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation in this sense is from 1808:
"By Attributes Mr. Harris means Adjectives, Verbs, and Participles."
(Middleton, Greek Article (1855), 56)

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