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From Old French ascrivre (inscribe, attribute, impute), from Latin āscrībō, from ad (to) + scrībō (write), from Proto-Indo-European *skrep-, *skreb- (to engrave). Cognate with Old English screpan (to scrape, scratch).



ascribe (third-person singular simple present ascribes, present participle ascribing, simple past and past participle ascribed)

  1. (transitive) To attribute a cause or characteristic to someone or something.
    One may ascribe these problems to the federal government; however, at this stage it is unclear what caused them.
  2. (transitive) To attribute a book, painting or any work of art or literature to a writer or creator.
    It is arguable as to whether we can truly ascribe this play to Shakespeare.
  3. (nonstandard, with to) To believe in or agree with; subscribe.
    • 1997, James A. Russell & ‎José Miguel Fernández-Dols, The Psychology of Facial Expression, →ISBN, page 133:
      A survey of the literature reveals that many who have commented on the signaling of animals ascribe to the view that all of their communicative signals are manifestations of emotion or affect.
    • 2010, Beverley Joan Taylor, Reflective Practice for Healthcare Professionals: A Practical Guide, →ISBN:
      If we take a holistic view of human beings, we ascribe to the idea that humans are multidimensional and that they are greater than the sum of their parts – for example, their physical, psychological and spiritual aspects.
    • 2012, Joan Friedlander, Business from Bed, →ISBN:
      There are plenty of people who ascribe to the idea that, if they only have a short time on this earth, they want to be “used up” when it's their time to go.
    • 2012, Mike Nappa, The Jesus Survey: What Christian Teens Really Believe and Why, →ISBN:
      And the truth is, I don't ascribe to the belief that God is more successful at drawing women to him than men.


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  1. second-person singular present active imperative of āscrībō