Definition of tributary in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtrɪbjʊt(ə)ri/

noun (plural tributaries)

1A river or stream flowing into a larger river or lake: the Illinois River, a tributary of the Mississippi
More example sentences
  • To venture into the almost trackless south of the Rufiji River; to the network of tributaries and oxbow lakes is truly wild.
  • The mighty Rufiji River is the lifeblood of the reserve and its numerous tributaries and oxbow lakes are ideal for boat safaris.
  • Bags of household rubbish have been dumped into two streams - tributaries of the River Dalgan - while others have been thrown across fences and gateways into private property.
North American & Australian/New Zealand  creek
technical influent
rare confluent
2 historical A person or state that pays tribute to another state or ruler: tributaries of the Ottoman Empire
More example sentences
  • Wallachia and Moldavia became tributaries of the Ottoman Empire from the fifteenth to the nineteenth centuries, but kept their own princes.
  • The local tributary rulers were deposed because they refused to pay their dues, and the ruler of Gilan was making overtures to the Ottomans.
  • They had established their rule on the coast of Ceylon and had intervened with military force in dynastic disputes in Java, eventually making the island's rulers tributaries of the company.


Late Middle English (in sense 2): from Latin tributarius, from tributum (see tribute). sense 1 dates from the early 19th century.

Words that rhyme with tributary

contributory, retributory

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: tribu|tary

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