The American Heritage Dictionary defines tribute as:

1. A gift, payment, declaration, or other acknowledgment of gratitude, respect, or admiration: put up a plaque as a tribute to his generosity.
2. Evidence attesting to some praiseworthy quality or characteristic: Her home is a tribute to her good taste.
3. a. A payment in money or other valuables made by one ruler or nation to another in acknowledgment of submission or as the price of protection or security. b. A tax imposed for such payment.
4. Any payment exacted for protection.
5. a. A payment or tax given by a feudal vassal to an overlord. b. The obligation to make such a payment.
[Middle English tribut, from Old French, from Latin tribútum, from neuter past participle of tribuere, to pay, distribute, from tribus, tribe.

It is interesting to note the ways in which these meanings overlap both in life and in Beowulf and Grendel. Who pays tribute because he really wishes to praise? Who pays tribute to gain some social or political advantage? Who pays tribute because he fears not to?

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