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

Keep scrolling for more

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 From the start, activists and grassroots organizers moved to barricade the area from the north, south, east, and west, transforming it into an autonomous zone off-limits to police. Ashley Tyner, Vogue, "What Does It Mean to Build—And Preserve—A BLM Memorial?," 29 Apr. 2021 Left-wing militants have reportedly been patrolling the autonomous zone around the Floyd memorial, and business owners say crime has spiraled out of control as a result. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Black business owners at George Floyd Square pleading for help as crime spikes and revenue plummets," 23 Apr. 2021 For 10 months, activists have occupied the area, turning it into a de facto autonomous zone. Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY, "'No justice, no streets': Still grieving, Minneapolis residents wonder how city will move forward after Derek Chauvin trial," 4 Apr. 2021 Each flight will be autonomous, lasting up to 90 seconds. Jonathan O'callaghan, Forbes, "NASA’s $85m ‘Mars Helicopter’ Is About To Attempt Flight On Another Planet For The First Time Ever," 12 Apr. 2021 Ohio’s 113 public health departments are autonomous. Laura Hancock, cleveland, "What Ohio could have learned about the coronavirus – if the state had the data," 10 Apr. 2021 Ingenuity – which will be autonomous and charged by its own solar panel – has a month-long window for up to five test flights. Julia Musto, Fox News, "NASA previews first Mars helicopter flights: Every step taken is 'uncharted territory'," 24 Mar. 2021 But Missy Cummings, a professor at Duke University and former fighter pilot who studies automated systems, says the speed at which decisions must be made on fast-moving jets means any AI system will be largely autonomous. Will Knight, Wired, "AI Could Enable 'Swarm Warfare' for Tomorrow's Fighter Jets," 22 Mar. 2021 Sean is fortunate to have a parent who is present enough to help him through school but who understands the benefits—for you both—of his being autonomous when college starts. Brian Platzer, The Atlantic, "Homeroom: I Can’t Keep Prodding My Son to Do His Work," 3 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about autonomous

Time Traveler for autonomous

Time Traveler

The first known use of autonomous was in 1799

See more words from the same year

Statistics for autonomous

Last Updated

12 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Autonomous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for autonomous



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

Comments on autonomous

What made you want to look up autonomous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!