au·​to·​ma·​tion ˌȯ-tə-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce automation (audio)
: the technique of making an apparatus, a process, or a system operate automatically
: the state of being operated automatically
: automatically controlled operation of an apparatus, process, or system by mechanical or electronic devices that take the place of human labor

Examples of automation in a Sentence

feared that automation would add millions to the ranks of the unemployed
Recent Examples on the Web Over the years, numerous reports have suggested the looming threat of automation over various job sectors, both blue-collar and white-collar. Kurt Knutsson, Fox News, 29 Sep. 2023 The German marque’s Drive Pilot conditional driver automation system is the first to receive regulatory approval for operation stateside, beating out similar technology from Tesla and Honda. Bryan Hood, Robb Report, 28 Sep. 2023 But the threat of AI vividly cast the writers’ plight as a human-versus-machine clash, with widespread implications for other industries facing a radically new kind of automation. Jake Coyle, Fortune, 28 Sep. 2023 The spectre of violence led some factory owners to abandon their plans for automation. Kyle Chayka, The New Yorker, 26 Sep. 2023 By the union’s count, the three automakers have closed 65 plants so far this century, due to a combination of automation, outsourcing and the loss of market share to nonunion automakers. Chris Isidore, CNN, 15 Sep. 2023 German industrial automation firm Beckhoff spelled out a similar approach in more detail. Andy Greenberg, WIRED, 6 Sep. 2023 One method of automation used by CVS is mentioned in at least seven citations by the pharmacy board since July 2022. Melody Petersen, Los Angeles Times, 5 Sep. 2023 The company also sells its Farmhand automation software, which provides operators with access to data and analytics about their crops. Globe Staff,, 7 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'automation.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


perhaps blend of automatic entry 1 and operation

Note: The coinage of this word has been attributed to the Ford Motor Company executive Delmar S. Harder (1892-1973), who in the period 1947-48 was a vice president of manufacturing. In the third volume of a history of Ford by Allan Nevins and Frank Ernest Hill (Ford: Decline and Rebirth, 1933-1962 [New York, 1963], p. 354), the following account is given: "At a staff meeting in 1947 Harder suggested a new department to study the efficient handling of materials …Harder groped for a name; 'the Automated Handling Department,' he suggested, then, 'better still, the Automation Department.' This seems to have been the first significant appearance of the word. Later, Harder dated its use back to 1936, when he was at Grand Rapids with General Motors. By the diligent efforts of Ford publicity men, and his own impressive accomplishments, Harder came to be known as 'the father of automation.' John Diebold of the Harvard Business School also claims to have invented the word 'automation,' but seems to have done so, according to the Ford version, a few days later than Harder's use in 1947." Unfortunately, Nevins and Hill give no exact source for this story, though, according to a later endnote, Harder was interviewed by them on November 12, 1959. An early printed instance of automation is in an article in the trade journal American Machinist ("Ford Handles by Automation," by Rupert Le Grand, vol. 92, no. 22 [October 21, 1948], pp. 107-22). It is not certain that John Diebold, an early writer on automation, ever claimed to have coined the word; at any rate, in 1947, when the Automation Department was formed at Ford, Diebold, who was born in 1926, was an undergraduate at Swarthmore and unlikely to have been in a position to introduce the word. See also the note at automate.

First Known Use

1912, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of automation was in 1912

Dictionary Entries Near automation

Cite this Entry

“Automation.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


au·​to·​ma·​tion ˌȯt-ə-ˈmā-shən How to pronounce automation (audio)
: the method of making a device, a process, or a system operate by itself
: automatic operation of a device, process, or system by mechanical or electronic devices that replace human operators

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