au·​ton·​o·​mous | \ ȯ-ˈtä-nə-məs How to pronounce autonomous (audio) \

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 The larger and more severe-looking machine that greeted WIRED has similar autonomous flying skills but aims to expand the startup’s technology beyond selfies into business and government work, including the military. Tom Simonite, Wired, "This Drone Maker Is Swooping In Amid US Pushback Against DJI," 13 July 2020 Last month, the country’s legislature passed a draft of a national security bill for Hong Kong that critics say jeopardizes the territory’s semi-autonomous standing. Fox News, "Chinese authorities detain outspoken critic of Xi Jinping," 7 July 2020 Overall, the liberal ideal is a diverse, pluralistic society of autonomous people guided by reason and tolerance. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Willful Blindness of Reactionary Liberalism," 6 July 2020 The central and local governments argue the law is long overdue and necessary to curb political unrest and uphold mainland sovereignty over the semi-autonomous financial hub. Helen Regan, Jadyn Sham And Vanesse Chan, CNN, "First person charged under Hong Kong's national security law appears in court," 6 July 2020 The autonomous freight network will roll out in three stages. Russ Wiles, The Arizona Republic, "Self-driving trucking service launched from Phoenix, other Southwest cities," 3 July 2020 New technology, such as autonomous recording units that can be left at a field site, is helping bird researchers capture more recordings than ever before. Sarah Zhang, The Atlantic, "The Birdsong That Took Over North America," 2 July 2020 The law’s passage Tuesday further blurs the distinction between the legal systems of semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which maintained aspects of British law after the 1997 handover, and the mainland’s authoritarian Communist Party system. Zen Soo, USA TODAY, "Hong Kong police make first arrests under new security law," 1 July 2020 From the beginning of the crisis, Spain’s economic response placed special emphasis on tourism, small and medium-size enterprises, and autonomous (self-employed) workers like Mr. González. Dominique Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, "As tourist drought idles workers, Spain weaves a makeshift safety net," 1 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for autonomous

Time Traveler

The first known use of autonomous was in 1799

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Autonomous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for autonomous


How to pronounce autonomous (audio)

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 How to pronounce autonomous (audio) \

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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