autonomy

noun
au·​ton·​o·​my | \ ȯ-ˈtä-nə-mē How to pronounce autonomy (audio) \
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

Judicial autonomy, press freedoms and civil liberties have been continuously eroded. Time, "Hong Kong Was My Refuge, Now Its Freedom Is at Stake," 13 June 2019 But what looks like cruelty in Dennis-Benn’s protagonists is also a desperate expression of autonomy, an insistence on claiming a sense of agency in the face of dispiriting alternatives. Adrienne Green, The Atlantic, "The Costs of Going After Love," 7 June 2019 Still, Lewis reasons that for surrogacy to shed all traces of the Handmaid’s Tale, it must be founded on a right to bodily autonomy, including the right to stop being a surrogate. Nora Caplan-bricker, The New Republic, "Choose Your Own Family," 4 June 2019 The death brought renewed scrutiny to the company’s effort to increase the autonomy of its cars, and was also immediately followed by the news of Tesla’s largest recall ever for an unrelated steering issue. Sean O'kane, The Verge, "The Verge 2018 tech report card: Tesla," 29 Dec. 2018 Educators across the country are making their voices heard to policymakers, fighting for better pay, more up-to-date classroom resources, increased autonomy, and greater levels of support in their schools. Patricia Jennings, Fortune, "Commentary: Here’s What We Can Do to Empower America’s Teachers," 7 May 2018 That gives the writer less autonomy to shape the material, so when it’s assembled between covers, an author’s nonfiction can seem, to borrow an observation frequently attributed to Winston Churchill, like a pudding without a theme. Danny Heitman, The Christian Science Monitor, "'See What Can Be Done' is a testament to the breadth of Lorrie Moore’s intellect," 2 Apr. 2018 As the last computing obstacles to safe and complete autonomy are solved, will the market begin to attract aging baby boomers? Greg Gardner, Detroit Free Press, "2 Detroit auto shows: The big truck present and high-tech future," 12 Jan. 2018 Free-range parenting aims to foster independence in children by giving them greater autonomy and less adult supervision. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About the Free-Range Parenting Method," 14 Mar. 2019

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

16 Jun 2019

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 How to pronounce autonomy (audio) \
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 How to pronounce autonomy (audio) \

Legal Definition of autonomy

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

Other Words from autonomy

autonomous \ -​məs How to pronounce autonomous (audio) \ 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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