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 The law, proposed when the protests broke out in June, will require the State Department to annually assess whether Hong Kong retains sufficient political autonomy to continue to qualify for favorable trading terms with Washington. Hillary Leung / Hong Kong, Time, "Trump Signs Legislation to Protect Human Rights in Hong Kong Amid Ongoing Protests," 28 Nov. 2019 Quandt sees more autonomy coming into the freight business. Mary Wisniewski, chicagotribune.com, "An (almost) self-driving semi truck to debut on the Illinois Tollway," 27 Nov. 2019 The new congressional legislation would eliminate that special trade status if Beijing shrinks Hong Kong’s autonomy. Trudy Rubin, Twin Cities, "Trudy Rubin: Hong Kong crisis has become a crucial test of future US-China relations," 24 Nov. 2019 While Muslims were in power, judicial autonomy was granted to recognized religious minorities, including Christians. Ramazan Kılınç, The Conversation, "Christians have lived in Turkey for two millennia – but their future is uncertain," 21 Nov. 2019 Under the bill, the President can also impose sanctions on those who violate the 1997 Sino-British Joint Declaration -- the agreement under which Britain handed Hong Kong back to China, and which sets the terms of the city's autonomy. Jessie Yeung, CNN, "US Senate unanimously passes Hong Kong rights and democracy bill," 19 Nov. 2019 Activists see the extradition bill as an example of Hong Kong’s eroding autonomy under Beijing rule since the 1997 handover from colonial power Britain. Ken Moritsugu, Anchorage Daily News, "Protesters try to leave Hong Kong campus but avoid arrest," 18 Nov. 2019 So, yes, Dantonio’s run of losses this season and his struggles to win in three of the past four years will cost him some autonomy. Shawn Windsor, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan State's slump pulls the curtains to find Mark Dantonio no longer the wizard," 17 Nov. 2019 Rather, companies have tried to start with narrower, less-demanding use cases that could be technologically and economically viable long before full level 5 autonomy is ready. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Another company is dialing back expectations for self-driving taxis," 14 Nov. 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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Time Traveler for autonomy

Time Traveler

The first known use of autonomy was circa 1623

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Statistics for autonomy

Last Updated

1 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Autonomy.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/autonomy. Accessed 12 December 2019.

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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 autonomous (audio) \ adjective
autonomously adverb

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Comments on autonomy

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