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 The State Department is required by the Hong Kong Policy Act to assess the autonomy of the territory from China. Ivan Watson And Rebecca Wright, CNN, "Hong Kong official defends controversial security law, but offers few details on how it will work," 27 May 2020 The territory’s fate is once again being decided in faraway halls of power as Beijing moves forward with plans to strip some of the autonomy the territory was supposed to enjoy for 50 years after Britain returned it to China in 1997. Hannah Beech, BostonGlobe.com, "‘I am just Hong Kong’: a city’s fate in China’s hands," 23 May 2020 Under the Sino-British Joint Declaration, China promised Hong Kong legal autonomy and the preservation of basic liberties, including freedom of speech, press and assembly. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "China Moves on Hong Kong," 21 May 2020 To accomplish this, my research shows their leaders should guard the autonomy of local authorities, while building cooperation and trust across all levels of government. Charles Hankla, The Conversation, "How disorderly democracies can outperform efficient autocracies in tackling coronavirus," 7 May 2020 Decisions on release for health reasons are taken in full autonomy and independence from the judiciary. Fox News, "Italy frees some mafia bosses from prison over coronavirus, reports say," 26 Apr. 2020 Public opinion protects the basic autonomy of courts by pressuring the president to nominate and the Senate to confirm individuals who will self-identify, then and later, as technical experts rather than partisan hacks. David Fontana, Washington Post, "Can the Supreme Court Learn to Speak Up for Itself?," 26 Feb. 2020 Federal efforts to standardize American schools have had the unfortunate consequence of diminishing the autonomy of educators and the distinctiveness of the education that students are provided. Matthew Ladner, National Review, "Arizona’s Success with Charter Schools Is a Model Other States Would Be Wise to Follow," 8 Nov. 2019 Tensions between Pakistan and India, two nuclear-armed countries, has increased since Aug. 5, when India downgraded the autonomy of its side of Kashmir and imposed tighter controls on the area. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Pakistanis hoist miles-long Kashmir flag in solidarity march," 20 Oct. 2019

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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Time Traveler for autonomy

Time Traveler

The first known use of autonomy was circa 1623

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Statistics for autonomy

Last Updated

1 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Autonomy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/autonomy. Accessed 7 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for autonomy

autonomy

noun
How to pronounce autonomy (audio)

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 autonomous (audio) \ adjective
autonomously adverb

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Comments on autonomy

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