autonomy

noun
au·​ton·​o·​my | \ ȯ-ˈtä-nə-mē How to pronounce autonomy (audio) \
plural autonomies

Definition of autonomy

1 : the quality or state of being self-governing especially : the right of self-government The territory was granted autonomy.
2 : self-directing freedom and especially moral independence personal autonomy
3 : a self-governing state

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Autonomy Has Origins in Law

Since nomos is Greek for "law", something autonomous makes its own laws. The amount of autonomy enjoyed by French-speaking Quebec, or of Palestinians in certain towns in Israel, or of independent-minded regions of Russia, have become major issues. The autonomy of individual states in the United States has posed serious constitutional questions for two centuries. The autonomy of children is almost always limited by their parents. But when those parents are elderly and begin driving poorly and getting confused about their finances, their children may see the need to limit their autonomy in much the same way.

Examples of autonomy in a Sentence

The Catalans take the matter of their language very seriously; it is an outward indication of their autonomy, of their distinction from the rest of Spain. — Polly Evans, It's Not About the Tapas, 2006 The term empire implies more than simple cultural dominance or preeminent military power. It applies to states that use force to occupy and control a group of other states or regions. The conquered states, robbed of autonomy and political independence, become colonies, provinces, or territories of the imperial power. Taxes are levied, laws are imposed, soldiers are conscripted, governors are installed—all without the consent of the subjugated state. — Michael J. Glennon, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2002 The social payoff of the new knowledge would be new technology, then new industries and new jobs. Compton got nowhere with the administration, partly because he was an anti-New Dealer, partly because the government was unwilling to grant scientists the autonomy that they claimed, and partly because his program represented a trickle-down approach to economic recovery. — Daniel J. Kevles, New Republic, 30 Sept. 2002 Usually, Americans think of freedom as a condition of personal autonomy, independence from the will of others. This way of thinking reflects just the kind of distinction—between oneself and the rest of the group of which one is a part—that Dewey considered false. — Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club, 2001 a teacher who encourages individual autonomy The territory has been granted autonomy.
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Recent Examples on the Web Help team members maintain their sense of autonomy by encouraging them to relate their career and personal aspirations to the direction and ethos/agenda of the organization. Ellevate, Forbes, 10 June 2021 Marketing excels at creating the illusion of autonomy for the purpose of taking people’s money. James Hamblin, The Atlantic, 21 May 2021 Since the 1990s, the city has been granted a good degree of autonomy by the central government in Madrid. Giovanni Legorano, WSJ, 19 May 2021 To some degree, the project is part of a long history of autonomy in weapons systems, with some missiles already capable of carrying out limited missions independent of human control. Will Knight, Wired, 10 May 2021 But the catastrophe also reignited a debate about religious-secular tensions in Israel, and about the amount of autonomy that should be granted to parts of the ultra-Orthodox community that resist state control. BostonGlobe.com, 1 May 2021 The science suggests the thing to solve for is maximum autonomy. David Rock, Forbes, 2 June 2021 The report also highlights legislative trends such as expanding access and autonomy for partisan poll watchers, granting more authority over election administration to state legislatures, and new and harsher punishments for election officials. BostonGlobe.com, 28 May 2021 Although autonomy is a part of adolescence — and freedom and risks come with that — American parents are too quick to let go of their teens. Washington Post, 30 Dec. 2020

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

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First Known Use of autonomy

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for autonomy

see autonomous

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Learn More About autonomy

Time Traveler for autonomy

Time Traveler

The first known use of autonomy was circa 1623

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Statistics for autonomy

Last Updated

18 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Autonomy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/autonomy. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for autonomy

autonomy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of autonomy

: the state of existing or acting separately from others
: the power or right of a country, group, etc., to govern itself

autonomy

noun
au·​ton·​o·​my | \ -mē How to pronounce autonomy (audio) \
plural autonomies

Medical Definition of autonomy

1 : the quality or state of being independent, free, and self-directing
2 : independence from the organism as a whole in the capacity of a part for growth, reactivity, or responsiveness

autonomy

noun
au·​ton·​o·​my | \ ȯ-ˈtä-nə-mē How to pronounce autonomy (audio) \

Legal Definition of autonomy

: the quality or state of being self-governing especially : the right of self-government

Other Words from autonomy

autonomous \ -​məs How to pronounce autonomy (audio) \ adjective
autonomously adverb

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