au·​toch·​tho·​nous | \ ȯ-ˈtäk-thə-nəs How to pronounce autochthonous (audio) \

Definition of autochthonous

1 : indigenous, native an autochthonous people autochthonous plants
2 : formed or originating in the place where found autochthonous rock an autochthonous infection

Other Words from autochthonous

autochthonously adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for autochthonous



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Ancient Athenians considered their ancestors the primordial inhabitants of their land, as if sprung from the very soil of the region they inhabited. Their word for any true-born Athenian, "autochthōn," itself springs from auto-, meaning "self," and chthōn, meaning "earth." Nowadays, the English adjective "autochthonous" is often used in somewhat meaty scientific or anthropological writing (as in "several autochthonous cases of fever broke out in the region"), but it was a "bready" context in which it made its debut. Observed English literary critic William Taylor in 1805: "The English have this great predilection for autochthonous bread and butter" (rather than French bread, one might safely presume).

Examples of autochthonous in a Sentence

an illegally introduced Asian fish that has virtually wiped out the lake's autochthonous species
Recent Examples on the Web Both The Dig and Ammonite fetishize British-ness in ways that make Mary Anning and Basil Brown seem less like serious researchers and more like Braveheart-style symbols of misunderstood autochthonous glory. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, 27 Jan. 2021 Far from being autochthonous, folk music is often influenced by the music of cities and courts, the seeds spread by travelers, merchants, migrants, itinerant players, refugees. Evan Eisenberg, WSJ, 24 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'autochthonous.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of autochthonous

1803, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for autochthonous

see autochthon

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The first known use of autochthonous was in 1803

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autochthonous idea

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Cite this Entry

“Autochthonous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for autochthonous


au·​toch·​tho·​nous | \ (ˈ)ȯ-ˈtäk-thə-nəs How to pronounce autochthonous (audio) \

Medical Definition of autochthonous

1a : indigenous or endemic to a region autochthonous malaria
b : contracted in the area where reported autochthonous cases of malaria in the United States
2 : originated in that part of the body where found used chiefly of pathological conditions

Other Words from autochthonous

autochthonously \ -​lē How to pronounce autochthonous (audio) \ adverb


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