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

Example Sentences

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 Lyft’s primary tool in bringing about that revolution was supposed to be autonomous vehicles. WIRED, 17 Nov. 2022 Even so, passengers in autonomous vehicles are subject to technology glitches that require a human to intervene and direct a vehicle on how to proceed. Ryan Randazzo, The Arizona Republic, 2 Nov. 2022 High-tech laser and radar sensors on autonomous vehicles can't be scaled to high volumes or affordable price points, Field said. Tom Krisher, ajc, 26 Oct. 2022 The San Francisco letter comes as General Motors awaits key regulator approval for the Cruise Origin, the no-pedal, no-steering wheel autonomous car that will be used to scale Cruise’s operations. Jessica Mathews, Fortune, 12 Oct. 2022 Think back to when blockchain first appeared or the notion of an autonomous car—from hype to mainstream. Ashik Ahmed, Forbes, 17 June 2022 The 2024 Chevy Silverado EV, BrightDrop electric delivery van, just coming to market, and some of the futuristic concepts such as an autonomous flying car are also seen. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, 11 Feb. 2022 The autopilot feature on Teslas requires active driver supervision and is not designed to make the car autonomous. Stephanie Wenger, PEOPLE.com, 9 Feb. 2022 The marque’s new vision of an autonomous car prioritizes the cabin experience instead of the exterior—though this one-off’s bodywork is exceptionally easy on the eyes. Basem Wasef, Robb Report, 5 Jan. 2022 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Greek autonomos independent, from aut- + nomos law — more at nimble

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 26 Nov. 2022.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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


The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ