au·​ton·​o·​mous | \ȯ-ˈtä-nə-məs \

Definition of autonomous 

1a : having the right or power of self-government an autonomous territory

b : undertaken or carried on without outside control : self-contained an autonomous school system

2a : existing or capable of existing independently an autonomous zooid

b : responding, reacting, or developing independently of the whole an autonomous growth

3 : controlled by the autonomic nervous system

4 : of, relating to, or marked by autonomy

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Other Words from autonomous

autonomously adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for autonomous

free, independent, sovereign, autonomous mean not subject to the rule or control of another. free stresses the complete absence of external rule and the full right to make all of one's own decisions. you're free to do as you like independent implies a standing alone; applied to a state it implies lack of connection with any other having power to interfere with its citizens, laws, or policies. the colony's struggle to become independent sovereign stresses the absence of a superior power and implies supremacy within a thing's own domain or sphere. separate and sovereign armed services autonomous stresses independence in matters pertaining to self-government. in this denomination each congregation is regarded as autonomous

Examples of autonomous in a Sentence

Native American nations are regarded as autonomous in many respects and thus not subject to a number of state and local laws.

Recent Examples on the Web

Like most car companies, Ford is racing to develop fully autonomous vehicle technology. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Walmart agrees to work with Ford on self-driving grocery delivery pilot," 14 Nov. 2018 As part of the partnership, Uber hopes to retrofit a fleet of Toyota Sienas with autonomous technology for real-world testing by 2021. Sebastian Modak, Condé Nast Traveler, "Today in Self-Driving Cars: Jaguar Gives Them Eyes, Toyota Gives Them $500M," 28 Aug. 2018 The deal aims to combine the best features from the two companies' work on autonomous technology into cars that will be picking up Uber's customers by 2021. Fox News, "Toyota investing $500 million in Uber with eye on autonomous cars," 28 Aug. 2018 That’s especially true as the U.S. Congress actively works to regulate autonomous technology. Johana Bhuiyan, Recode, "Months after a self-driving crash, Uber is being slower and more deliberate as it gets back on public roads to test its technology," 24 July 2018 The Wall Street Journal’s Jason Bellini was the first journalist to ride in an autonomous helicopter and get an understanding of the potential, and the current limitations, of such flights. Jason Bellini, WSJ, "The Future of Flight: AI in the Cockpit," 12 Nov. 2018 Boeing recently signed on to open an autonomous flight research center in one of the new towers. Patrick Sisson, Curbed, "As top innovation hub expands, can straining local infrastructure keep pace?," 6 Nov. 2018 Cars with advanced driver-assistance technology are more expensive to repair than their less-autonomous counterparts, according to a study by AAA. Eric Bangeman, Ars Technica, "How driver-assist tech can result in a $5,000 fender-bender," 25 Oct. 2018 After that, Facebook decided building aircraft was too difficult — and irrelevant, with so many other companies developing autonomous Wi-Fi hotspots. Troy Farah, Discover Magazine, "The Web, Worldwide," 19 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'autonomous.' 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 autonomous

1799, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for autonomous

Greek autonomos independent, from aut- + nomos law — more at nimble

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Last Updated

30 Nov 2018

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The first known use of autonomous was in 1799

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English Language Learners Definition of autonomous

: existing or acting separately from other things or people

: having the power or right to govern itself


au·​ton·​o·​mous | \ȯ-ˈtän-ə-məs \

Medical Definition of autonomous 

1 : of, relating to, or marked by autonomy

2a : not forming a part (as does an embryo or seed) in the developmental sequence of an organism

b : responding, reacting, or developing independently of the whole a tumor is an autonomous growth

3 : under control of the autonomic nervous system

Other Words from autonomous

autonomously adverb

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