adjective au·to·mat·ic \ˌ-tə-ˈma-tik\

of a machine or device : having controls that allow something to work or happen without being directly controlled by a person

of a gun : shooting many bullets very quickly when the trigger is pulled

: happening or done without deliberate thought or effort

Full Definition of AUTOMATIC

a :  largely or wholly involuntary; especially :  reflex 5 <automatic blinking of the eyelids>
b :  acting or done spontaneously or unconsciously
c :  done or produced as if by machine :  mechanical <the answers were automatic>
:  having a self-acting or self-regulating mechanism <an automatic transmission>
of a firearm :  firing repeatedly until the trigger is released
au·to·mat·i·cal·ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb
au·to·ma·tic·i·ty \-mə-ˈti-sə-tē, -ma-\ noun

Examples of AUTOMATIC

  1. Without thinking, he gave an automatic reply.
  2. She always has an automatic smile for everyone.


Greek automatos self-acting, from aut- + -matos (akin to Latin ment-, mens mind) — more at mind
First Known Use: 1748

Synonym Discussion of AUTOMATIC

spontaneous, impulsive, instinctive, automatic, mechanical mean acting or activated without deliberation. spontaneous implies lack of prompting and connotes naturalness <a spontaneous burst of applause>. impulsive implies acting under stress of emotion or spirit of the moment <impulsive acts of violence>. instinctive stresses action involving neither judgment nor will <blinking is an instinctive reaction>. automatic implies action engaging neither the mind nor the emotions and connotes a predictable response <his denial was automatic>. mechanical stresses the lifeless, often perfunctory character of the response <a mechanical teaching method>.

Other Weapons and Explosives Terms

carbine, cudgel, muzzle, rapier



: a gun that shoots many bullets very quickly : an automatic weapon

: a vehicle that changes gears by itself at different speeds : a car with automatic transmission

Full Definition of AUTOMATIC

:  a machine or apparatus that operates automatically: as
a :  an automatic firearm
b :  an automatic transmission
:  a semiautomatic firearm
:  audible

Examples of AUTOMATIC

  1. Will your next car be a manual or an automatic?

First Known Use of AUTOMATIC

AUTOMATIC Defined for Kids


adjective au·to·mat·ic \ˌ-tə-ˈma-tik\

Definition of AUTOMATIC for Kids

:  involuntary <automatic blinking of eyelids>
:  being a machine or device that allows something to work without being directly controlled by a person <an automatic washer>
au·to·mat·i·cal·ly \-ti-kə-lē\ adverb
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears