Definition of automaton
automataplay \-mə-tə, -mə-ˌtä\
Did You Know?
The idea of the automaton has fascinated people for many centuries. A traveler to the emperor's court in Byzantium in A.D. 949 reported that mechanical birds sat in a golden tree singing the songs of their species; that mechanical lions flanked the throne, roaring and switching their great tails; and that, as he stood watching, the emperor's throne suddenly shot upward toward the high ceiling, and when it slowly descended the emperor was wearing new robes. Early automata (notice the common plural form) often relied on water, steam, or falling weights to power them. Today automata, often called robots, are used in manufacturing plants to build not only vehicles but also much smaller electronic equipment.
Origin and Etymology of automaton
Latin, from Greek, neuter of automatos —see 1automatic
First Known Use: 1639
AUTOMATON Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of automaton for English Language Learners
: a machine that can move by itself
: a person who acts in a mechanical or machinelike way
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