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

The car, a Volvo SUV, was in autonomous mode when the crash occurred. Jonathan Sperling, Fortune, "Arizona Uber Driver Was Streaming 'The Voice' on Hulu Before Fatal Self-Driving Car Crash," 22 June 2018 One Uber car, operating in autonomous mode, struck and killed a pedestrian in Tempe, the first such fatality in the nation, in March. Richard Ruelas, azcentral, "Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey officially starts his re-election bid with message about security," 18 June 2018 These research cars are driving all over the city in autonomous mode while collecting high-definition mapping data. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Ford’s ‘self-driving’ vans are now delivering food in Miami," 11 June 2018 The decision comes two months after one of Uber’s driverless cars struck and killed a woman in Tempe, Ariz., while in autonomous mode. Daisuke Wakabayashi, New York Times, "Uber Finds Profits in Leaving Tough Overseas Markets," 23 May 2018 The March 23 Tesla crash that led to the death of a driver occurred shortly after an Uber car in semi-autonomous mode took the life of a pedestrian. Johana Bhuiyan, Recode, "Elon Musk will have to answer for Tesla’s Model 3 production woes on Wednesday’s earnings call," 1 May 2018 No doubt the image of a cab-less truck will further stoke fears that autonomous technology will lead to enormous displacement in the workforce. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "This electric driverless logging truck can carry up to 16 tons of timber," 12 July 2018 The new autonomous technology is designed to meet changing demands in the grocery market. Sarah Cahlan /, NBC News, "This self-driving car could deliver groceries to your doorstep," 11 July 2018 Investigators from two federal agencies are looking into five crashes of its vehicles, some involving the semi-autonomous Autopilot system or post-crash battery fires that have been difficult to extinguish. Tom Krisher, Detroit Free Press, "Elon Musk: Tesla hit weekly goal of making 5,000 Model 3s," 1 July 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

5 Oct 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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