autonomy

noun
au·​ton·​o·​my | \ ȯ-ˈtä-nə-mē \
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

Though the Muslim region as a whole voted for autonomy last Monday, with more than 88% of voters in favor, Sulu province voted against. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "Philippine Terror Attack Kills at Least 20, Threatens Peace Hopes For Muslim Self-Rule," 27 Jan. 2019 Murad’s guerrilla force is the second in the south to have dropped a demand for a separate Muslim state in exchange for autonomy. Jim Gomez, The Seattle Times, "Philippine rebel chief: 30,000 rebels to be disarmed in deal," 24 July 2018 The two largest Moro rebel groups in the south have dropped a demand for a separate Muslim state in exchange for Muslim autonomy and renounced terrorism. Jim Gomez, Fox News, "Philippine Congress' approval of Muslim peace deal delayed," 23 July 2018 Making a success of autonomy is seen as a crucial step toward addressing a cycle of violence that has fueled terrorism and sucked in the U.S. military. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "Muslims in the Philippines Emerge From the Fog of War to Vote on Self-Rule," 18 Jan. 2019 From Las Vegas to Detroit to Austin, cities got to test the waters of autonomy in a low-risk, high-reward way. Alissa Walker, Curbed, "The good, the bad, and the ugly of self-driving cars in 2018," 27 Dec. 2018 In addition to preventing unintended pregnancies, contraception has many different benefits for reproductive autonomy and health. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Almost Two-Thirds of Women in the U.S. Use Some Form of Birth Control," 20 Dec. 2018 Old-school autonomy NASA has a long history with AI and machine-learning technologies, Chien said. Alyson Behr, Ars Technica, "NASA’s next Mars rover will use AI to be a better science partner," 6 Dec. 2018 The iNEXT underscores the point that autonomy will radically change car interiors. Ezra Dyer, Popular Mechanics, "Car Shows Used to Be Amazing—And They Might Be Again," 5 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for autonomy

Last Updated

10 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for autonomy

The first known use of autonomy was circa 1623

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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 \
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 \

Legal Definition of autonomy

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

Other Words from autonomy

autonomous \ -​məs \ adjective
autonomously adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on autonomy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with autonomy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for autonomy

Spanish Central: Translation of autonomy

Nglish: Translation of autonomy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of autonomy for Arabic Speakers

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