autonomy

noun
au·​ton·​o·​my | \ȯ-ˈtä-nə-mē \
plural autonomies

Definition of autonomy 

1 : the quality or state of being self-governing especially : the right of self-government The territory was granted autonomy.

2 : self-directing freedom and especially moral independence personal autonomy

3 : a self-governing state

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Autonomy Has Origins in Law

Since nomos is Greek for "law", something autonomous makes its own laws. The amount of autonomy enjoyed by French-speaking Quebec, or of Palestinians in certain towns in Israel, or of independent-minded regions of Russia, have become major issues. The autonomy of individual states in the United States has posed serious constitutional questions for two centuries. The autonomy of children is almost always limited by their parents. But when those parents are elderly and begin driving poorly and getting confused about their finances, their children may see the need to limit their autonomy in much the same way.

Examples of autonomy in a Sentence

The Catalans take the matter of their language very seriously; it is an outward indication of their autonomy, of their distinction from the rest of Spain. — Polly Evans, It's Not About the Tapas, 2006 The term empire implies more than simple cultural dominance or preeminent military power. It applies to states that use force to occupy and control a group of other states or regions. The conquered states, robbed of autonomy and political independence, become colonies, provinces, or territories of the imperial power. Taxes are levied, laws are imposed, soldiers are conscripted, governors are installed—all without the consent of the subjugated state. — Michael J. Glennon, Wilson Quarterly, Summer 2002 The social payoff of the new knowledge would be new technology, then new industries and new jobs. Compton got nowhere with the administration, partly because he was an anti-New Dealer, partly because the government was unwilling to grant scientists the autonomy that they claimed, and partly because his program represented a trickle-down approach to economic recovery. — Daniel J. Kevles, New Republic, 30 Sept. 2002 Usually, Americans think of freedom as a condition of personal autonomy, independence from the will of others. This way of thinking reflects just the kind of distinction—between oneself and the rest of the group of which one is a part—that Dewey considered false. — Louis Menand, The Metaphysical Club, 2001 a teacher who encourages individual autonomy The territory has been granted autonomy.
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Recent Examples on the Web

According to the Detroit Free Press, Ford's software appears to work only with vehicles that possess some level of autonomy. Megan Geuss, Ars Technica, "Chinese customers hate “new car smell,” so Ford files a patent to bake it out," 20 Nov. 2018 Despite a promise of autonomy, activists complain mainland influence over its democratic elections is increasing. Fox News, "In a first, Hong Kong bans pro-independence political party," 23 Sep. 2018 While women lack autonomy over many aspects of their lives, the right to drive is one of the most pronounced movements in the country. Hannah Wiley, USA TODAY, "Saudi Arabia's 'right to drive' not enough, human rights experts say," 13 June 2018 Polls in Taipei show most Taiwanese now prefer autonomy over unification. Ralph Jennings, latimes.com, "A velvet fist in an iron glove? China talks tough about Taiwan, but shows signs of a softer policy," 29 Mar. 2018 Opinion polls conducted last year show that 70 to 80 percent of Taiwanese prefer autonomy over unification. Michael Holtz, The Christian Science Monitor, "Beijing's message for young Taiwanese: We mean business," 29 Mar. 2018 In the Empowerment Zone, teachers have a separate performance pay contract, and schools have increased autonomy over budget, personnel, and curriculum decisions. Mandy Mclaren, The Courier-Journal, "Analysis: Private group's report on possible takeover of JCPS leaves out key details," 1 Mar. 2018 Mr Zhou has been influential on a broad range of economic reforms even though—or, perhaps, because—the People’s Bank of China does not have autonomy over monetary policy. The Economist, "Situations vacantChange is afoot at the top of central banks," 1 Feb. 2018 Naturally, Human Rights Watch and other critics castigate Israel for failing to give the Palestinians more autonomy. Elliot Kaufman, WSJ, "The Palestinians’ Worst Enemy Is Their Own Leaders," 30 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'autonomy.' 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 autonomy

circa 1623, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for autonomy

see autonomous

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Statistics for autonomy

Last Updated

15 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for autonomy

The first known use of autonomy was circa 1623

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More Definitions for autonomy

autonomy

noun

English Language Learners Definition of autonomy

: the state of existing or acting separately from others

: the power or right of a country, group, etc., to govern itself

autonomy

noun
au·​ton·​o·​my | \-mē \
plural autonomies

Medical Definition of autonomy 

1 : the quality or state of being independent, free, and self-directing

2 : independence from the organism as a whole in the capacity of a part for growth, reactivity, or responsiveness

autonomy

noun
au·​ton·​o·​my | \ȯ-ˈtä-nə-mē \

Legal Definition of autonomy 

: the quality or state of being self-governing especially : the right of self-government

Other Words from autonomy

autonomous \-​məs \ adjective
autonomously adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on autonomy

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with autonomy

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for autonomy

Spanish Central: Translation of autonomy

Nglish: Translation of autonomy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of autonomy for Arabic Speakers

Comments on autonomy

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