I have a bone to pick with the word “stat” as used by game systems to describe the properties of game entities.
A "stat" is an observation codified into mathematical symbols about a thing or event that (it stands to reason) exists independently of the stat. If I roll a six-sided die, there are six possible outcomes. I roll the die a thousand times and make the observation that each outcome occurred a roughly equal number of times. I can say that I rolled “1” 180 times—this is a statistic.
Statistics don't determine what side of a coin comes up when you flip it. The attributes of the coin and the forces applied to it determine how it lands.
The word “stat” came into common use in this role because those numbers that describe (not determine!)the capacities of a person or thing in real life are called “stats”. The properties game designers ascribe to characters in a game would seem to be such measurements—but they are not. What we call “stats” in game systems are the actual factors that go into determining the results of actions; they aren’t measurements or observations and therefore aren’t suitably named.
An "attribute" or "property" is an actual child-fact itself. The attributes of a thing determine how it behaves. It doesn’t matter how you observe the behavior (on the scale of human beings), the causes and effects will remain consistent.
In a game system, game designers decide what properties different entities have. These properties, when we put numbers to them (like a “strength” score), are not statistics—they are the attributes of the game entity. A statistic would be like “your character succeeded in breaking this door after 3 kicks.” The attributes of the character and the door—what are usually called “stats”—are what actually determine if the door opens due to the blow.
“Attribute” is clearly a better word for the inherent properties of game entities. I tend to use this word to describe such properties when I talk about games, but no one seems to pick up on the distinction. It’s not really important, though, because people usually understand, in general gamer use, the word “stat”’s intended meaning. In the interest of clarity, I’ve made this post about the term. At least we can use the most clear words in our discussion here, so if we start talking about statistics and character attributes at once there won’t be meaning-confusion.