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

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 Peek at the future Security robots and Knightscope both have made headlines for their autonomous technology. Kimberly Rapanut, azcentral, "This robot is joining the security team at a northern Arizona casino," 28 June 2018 Now that semi-autonomous technology is making its way into consumer vehicles, car companies and the scientists who work at them will need to get savvier about building systems that hold their drivers’ attention. Aarian Marshall, WIRED, "Distracted Driving Is Out of Control, and There's No Single Cure," 27 June 2018 The Republican government had treated Catalonia favorably, granting semi-autonomous status in 1931, and Catalonia became a left wing stronghold during the bloody three-year conflict. Kate Keller, Smithsonian, "Beyond the Headlines, Catalan Culture Has a Long History of Vibrancy and Staying Power," 25 June 2018 And instead of getting fully driverless, Level 4-ready cars, participants will test the cars with the same Level 2 semi-autonomous assistance systems that are commercially available in Europe and the US. Andrew J. Hawkins, The Verge, "Volvo’s self-driving cars are getting new laser sensors to see the world," 14 June 2018 The feature is meant to remind users to stay alert and also tells the vehicle that the driver is still actively engaged in the ride, even if the car’s semi-autonomous driving system is turned on. Don Reisinger, Fortune, "Elon Musk Says Tesla Is Changing Its 'Hold Steering Wheel' Alerts After Complaints," 13 June 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

21 Sep 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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