Definition of ascription in US English:



  • 1The attribution of something to a cause.

    ‘an ascription of effect to cause’
    • ‘The hundreds of texts on this theme contain two main elements: the description of the experience; and its ascription to the nightmare.’
    • ‘Given this discrepancy, solution may be elusive, and ascription of the patterns to a pervasive pathology whose outbreaks are unpredictable makes sense.’
    • ‘Modern psycho-analysts question this physical ascription as they work on the basis that our cognitions and emotions have a greater role than repetition of physical acts in forming habits.’
    • ‘Less often are we aware of the privileges accorded us by affiliation and ascription; I did get a job interview, a grant, a publication offer because of my academic pedigree, my identity, or both.’
    • ‘An account of our mental habits does enter into the explanation of our ascriptions of causality; but this is not to say that when we attribute causal properties to some physical object, we are also making an assertion about ourselves.’
    1. 1.1 The attribution of a text, quotation, or work of art to a particular person or period.
      ‘her ascription of the text to Boccaccio’
      ‘questions of authorial ascription’
      • ‘These questions lead to some reflections on the ways in which créolité translates time-honored models of literary history, while providing new ascriptions of literary genesis, genealogy, and genetic criticism.’
      • ‘Perched above my desk is an old Christmas card with a reproduction of a seventeenth-century Italian etching of the Madonna and Child, the ascription of the artist long since lost.’
      • ‘And why use anonymous transmission during Josquin's lifetime as negative evidence when we really know so little about why a piece bears an ascription in one source but not in another?’
      • ‘This ascription depends on dating Berling's print of the ‘Rest on the Flight into Egypt’ to 1795, as I did in an earlier paper.’
      • ‘The eleven poems not definitely known to be by writers other than Shakespeare are included in the Oxford edition, with a statement that the ascription is very doubtful.’
      • ‘This ascription has notoriously become a matter of debate and controversy in the modern era.’
      • ‘When ascriptions are given, they are often incorrect.’
      • ‘All four, however, lack ascriptions, and presumably their composer's name was omitted simply because Nathaniel saw no need to write it out.’
      • ‘While I have tried to identify as many poems as I can, many have remained true to their seventeenth-century nature and are still devoid of ascription.’
      • ‘For Philips's ensemble works, the ascription is usually abbreviated to ‘P.P.’’
      • ‘However, the style of the ascriptions of works to Philips in the section devoted to instrumental works may be an important clue in support of the hypothesis.’
      • ‘Dr Kruse accepts the traditional ascription of the Gospel to the apostle John, writing in Ephesus towards the end of the first century.’
      • ‘Furthermore, it seems likely that 52's ascription is the source for the other three ascriptions to Monck.’
      • ‘The authors of the Homilies are hard in some cases to specify, and there is wide discrepancy in ascription.’
      • ‘But while I have tried to put poets to as many poems as I can, most verses have remained true to their seventeenth-century nature and elude ascription.’
      • ‘Her ascription to Smithian discourse as the source for this ethic of reading and writing is problematic in that Smith's own writings undercut the sentimental version of narrative identification.’
      • ‘Assessing the available evidence about the life history of ‘The Recruited Collier,’ Roy Palmer concluded that Lloyd's ascription of it to Huxtable is untenable.’
      • ‘There are excellent reasons for maintaining the traditional ascriptions of Gospel authorship, when standard tests for such determinations are applied;’
      • ‘Another ascription is to Nicetas of Remesiana, a Dacian bishop of the early 5th century.’
    2. 1.2 The action of regarding a quality as belonging to someone or something.
      ‘the author's ascription of human attributes to his hero or villain’
      • ‘Yet even this ascription of purity was streaked with ambiguity.’
      • ‘His conclusion is that God is only - and rarely - compared to a woman, whereas masculine ascriptions to God as metaphors are constitutive of a growing structure of meaning about God in the Bible.’
      • ‘Marian's writing and eavesdropping defies the traditional ascription of maleness to narrative agency, although it is later re-established.’
      • ‘At the same time, they are careful to avoid any blanket ascription of authority to scripture.’
      • ‘In any proportionality inquiry the relevant interests must be identified, and there will be some ascription of weight or value to those interests, since this is a necessary condition precedent to any balancing operation.’
      • ‘This strategy for reconciling ascriptions of perfect goodness and omnipotence to God might be judged effective as long as three important theistic beliefs about God's power were respected by any such restriction.’
      • ‘These ascriptions of meaning may be as public and contentious as the land claims of competing religions, or as particular and personal as the anchoring of ideals in iconic places.’
      • ‘In their mind, the more religious, the more simple-minded - an ascription to which they adhere equally when thinking of their own Orthodox Jewish brethren.’
      • ‘Too much emphasis on feeling or ascription of meaning could only obscure what was truly musical about music, its articulation of style, form, and structure.’
      • ‘The ascription of such powerlessness has been part of an assault on institutions by social scientists, among others.’
      • ‘There's an underlying ascription of bad faith to language writers, that they are somehow cultural commissars, in a sentence like that.’
      • ‘If we conclude that the ascription of sensations and feelings to a disembodied spirit does not make sense, it does not obviously follow, as you might think, that we must deny the possibility of disembodied spirits altogether.’
      • ‘Without ascriptions of meaning, formal and analytical knowledge is inert, unactualised, imperceptible.’
      • ‘Matthew and Luke somehow stumble over Mark's bald ‘all things are possible to you’, a traditional ascription of omnipotence.’
      • ‘The author puts ‘to the Hebrews’ in quotation marks because he, like many other scholars currently working on Hebrews, does not believe that this ascription describes the addressees of this text.’
      • ‘Knowledge of the law is hardly an appropriate test on which to base ascription of responsibility to the mentally disordered.’
      • ‘For surely our ordinary judgments typically, if not exclusively, are motivated by moral concerns - in particular, the ascription of responsibility, the recognition of rights and obligations, and the acknowledgment of commitments.’
      • ‘The third is the emergence of new attitudes, usually described as postmodernist, which challenge the Church's traditional ascription of authority to the Bible.’
      • ‘The most noticeable rhetorical development in this sequence is the profound infantilization of Stephen's represented speech and the repeated ascription of shyness, timidity, and silence to Stephen and his soul.’
      • ‘Just as we do with other humans, introspective experience allows ascription of similar mentality to other species.’
    3. 1.3 A preacher's words ascribing praise to God at the end of a sermon.
      • ‘This ascription of praise to ‘Our Father ‘is found in 491 out of 500 existing manuscripts.’’
      • ‘Reaching us, every human being must grasp our hands, amid exclamations of ‘Bress you, mas'r,’ and ‘Bress de Lord,’ at the rate of four of the latter ascriptions to one of the former.’
      • ‘Even when the trinitarian ascription of praise is not used, ‘forever’ ends prayers.’
      • ‘‘Lord and Our God’ was the royal ascription in use about the time John was written.’


Late 16th century: from Latin ascriptio(n-), from the verb ascribere (see ascribe).