automaton

play
noun au·tom·a·ton \ȯ-ˈtä-mə-tən, -mə-ˌtän\

Definition of automaton

plural

automatons

or

automata

play \-mə-tə, -mə-ˌtä\
  1. 1 :  a mechanism that is relatively self-operating; especially :  robot

  2. 2 :  a machine or control mechanism designed to follow automatically a predetermined sequence of operations or respond to encoded instructions

  3. 3 :  an individual who acts in a mechanical fashion He is an unfeeling automaton.

Recent Examples of automaton from the Web

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

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

Other Mechanical Engineering Terms


AUTOMATON Defined for English Language Learners

automaton

play
noun

Definition of automaton for English Language Learners

  • : a machine that can move by itself

  • : a person who acts in a mechanical or machinelike way



Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up automaton? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

WORD OF THE DAY

the point at which something begins

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • istock-refers-to-this-as-a-tumble-of-strawberries-which-sounded-pretty-nice-to-us
  • Which is a synonym of garner?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!