Etymology
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tributary (adj.)

late 14c., "paying tribute," from Latin tributarius "liable to tax or tribute," from tributum (see tribute).

tributary (n.)

late 14c., "person, country, etc. owing obedience or paying tribute or a tax to a sovereign or another people," from Latin tributarius (see tributary (adj.)). Meaning "stream that flows into a larger body" is from 1822, from the adjective in this sense, which is recorded from 1610s.

updated on October 14, 2021

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Definitions of tributary from WordNet
1
tributary (adj.)
tending to bring about; being partly responsible for;
Synonyms: conducive / contributing / contributive / contributory
tributary (adj.)
(of a stream) flowing into a larger stream;
tributary (adj.)
paying tribute;
a tributary colony
2
tributary (n.)
a branch that flows into the main stream;
Synonyms: feeder / confluent / affluent
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.