autonomous

adjective

au·​ton·​o·​mous ȯ-ˈtä-nə-məs How to pronounce autonomous (audio)
1
a
: 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
2
a
: 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
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 Stephen’s approach is that dreams are living, autonomous worlds and figures and landscapes. Amy Raasch, Los Angeles Times, 3 Apr. 2024 Ives admits to working with a private company on an autonomous lethal antitank drone for the good of national security. Sara Netzley, EW.com, 1 Apr. 2024 Here's a look at the autonomous underwater vehicle. USA TODAY, 29 Mar. 2024 Any company applying for a permit will also need to provide proof of at least $5 million in car insurance for any autonomous vehicles testing on NYC highways, as well as a $3 million in personal liability insurance. Mack Degeurin, Popular Science, 28 Mar. 2024 The Department of Energy is among those entities also taking the idea seriously enough to invest in some research into microgrids and autonomous energy grids. Eric MacK, Forbes, 28 Mar. 2024 Some rules exempt intelligence agencies and the Department of Defense, which is having a separate debate about the use of autonomous weapons. Matt O'Brien, Fortune, 28 Mar. 2024 New York City announced a new permitting system for companies interested in testing autonomous vehicles on its roads, including a requirement that a human safety driver sit behind the steering wheel at all times. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, 28 Mar. 2024 At 16 feet in width, the bridge will also be wide enough for future autonomous shuttles — small electric pod cars now in the development stage — that possibly could traverse the bridge in the future, authorities said. Judith Prieve, The Mercury News, 20 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'autonomous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Greek autónomos "self-governing, independent" (from auto- auto- + -nomos, adjective derivative of nómos "custom, convention, law") + -ous — more at nomothetic

First Known Use

1799, in the meaning defined at sense 4

Time Traveler
The first known use of autonomous was in 1799

Dictionary Entries Near autonomous

Cite this Entry

“Autonomous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/autonomous. Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

autonomous

adjective
au·​ton·​o·​mous ȯ-ˈtän-ə-məs How to pronounce autonomous (audio)
1
: having autonomy : self-governing
2
: existing independent of anything else
autonomously adverb

Medical Definition

autonomous

adjective
au·​ton·​o·​mous ȯ-ˈtän-ə-məs How to pronounce autonomous (audio)
1
: of, relating to, or marked by autonomy
2
a
: 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
autonomously adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on autonomous

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