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 Lee appeared to be referring to a prediction by legal scholar Benny Tai, who was among those arrested, of what would happen to Hong Kong if China continued to diminish its autonomy. David Pierson, Los Angeles Times, "Dozens of Hong Kong pro-democracy figures arrested in one of China’s biggest crackdowns," 5 Jan. 2021 The problems that affect creative workers and restrict their autonomy are more or less universal across society. Robin Kaiser-schatzlein, The New Republic, "The Artist Isn’t Dead," 4 Jan. 2021 The real terror is in its autonomy, this idea that it would be programmed to detect a series of environmental inputs, then to act, without human interference. Adrienne Lafrance, The Atlantic, "Facebook Is a Doomsday Machine," 15 Dec. 2020 My discomfort with that word matters more than your autonomy. Your Fat Friend, SELF, "After Years of Writing Anonymously About Fatness, I'm Telling the World Who I Am," 11 Dec. 2020 The demands of military service constrained their autonomy—fathers, husbands, and sons had to take up arms at a moment’s notice—but this also earned them the respect of the Mexican authorities. Alice Baumgartner, The New Yorker, "When the Enslaved Went South," 19 Nov. 2020 There is a general concern that the studio is losing its luster as a Hollywood icon and its autonomy under its new owners, according to the current and former executives. Joe Flint, WSJ, "Peter Roth to Step Down as Warner Bros. TV Chief," 16 Oct. 2020 Though ethnic Armenians complained that Azerbaijan restricted their autonomy and claimed Azerbaijan discriminated against them, the Soviet Union was intolerant of ethnic nationalism and ignored a variety of protests against the status quo. Erin Blakemore, National Geographic, "How the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has been shaped by past empires," 15 Oct. 2020 One of their products happens to catch the eye of a beauty conglomerate bigwig (Hayek), who proposes to buy their business and seemingly promises them creative and financial autonomy. Rachel King, Fortune, "The best business documentaries, movies, and TV shows to stream during your time off," 24 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for autonomy

Time Traveler

The first known use of autonomy was circa 1623

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Statistics for autonomy

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Autonomy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/autonomy. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for autonomy

autonomy

noun
How to pronounce autonomy (audio)

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 autonomy (audio) \ adjective
autonomously adverb

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Comments on autonomy

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