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

With the 360c, Volvo introduced a new way for autonomous cars to communicate with human drivers, pedestrians, and cyclists. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "Volvo Thinks Autonomous Cars Could Replace Short-Haul Flights," 6 Sep. 2018 But other automakers and tech companies rushing to develop autonomous cars — Waymo, Ford and General Motors, for instance — are betting on lidar. Eric D. Lawrence, Detroit Free Press, "Is Tesla's Elon Musk wrong about this key self-driving technology?," 27 June 2018 Opponents of the plan had argued that autonomous cars and buses would soon be a cheaper and better way of transporting people. The Economist, "Public transport is in decline in many wealthy cities," 21 June 2018 The tragic death in Arizona of a pedestrian struck by an Uber autonomous car is a teachable moment. Kevin Werbach,, "When crises come, ethically challenged firms such as Uber are most vulnerable, Wharton prof says," 16 Apr. 2018 The coding task required them to write code to enable an autonomous car to complete the track in the fastest time with no human intervention. Patricia Dillon, Houston Chronicle, "Local business offers STEM classes to toddlers, young children," 30 Mar. 2018 The same day, Aug. 25, 2015, Ducey issued an executive order allowing for the testing of autonomous cars with human drivers in the car as a safety precaution. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, "Arizona's relationship with Uber under scrutiny: Report," 28 Mar. 2018 In September, Bloomberg reported that Jaguar Land Rover was weighing purchases of technology companies that could boost its efforts to roll out electric vehicles and autonomous driving systems. Time, "Waymo and Jaguar Are Making Self-Driving Electric SUVs Together," 27 Mar. 2018 In short, it's been hard to imagine that autonomous cars could be worse than human drivers. Peter Flax, Outside Online, "Autonomous Cars Aren’t Ready for Cyclists," 19 Mar. 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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Statistics for autonomous

Last Updated

18 May 2019

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Time Traveler for autonomous

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 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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