au·​tot·​o·​my | \ ȯ-ˈtä-tə-mē How to pronounce autotomy (audio) \

Definition of autotomy

: reflex separation of a part (such as an appendage) from the body : division of the body into two or more pieces

Other Words from autotomy

autotomous \ ȯ-​ˈtä-​tə-​məs How to pronounce autotomy (audio) \ adjective
autotomize \ ȯ-​ˈtä-​tə-​ˌmīz How to pronounce autotomy (audio) \ verb

Examples of autotomy in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web There’s love, but there’s also a fear of a loss of autotomy. Los Angeles Times, 15 Apr. 2021 For scorpions, tail autotomy is even more punishing. Bradley Allf, Smithsonian Magazine, 1 Mar. 2021 Leopard geckos are one of a few lizard species that possess this self-amputation ability, known as autotomy. Jason G. Goldman, Scientific American, 1 Dec. 2017

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

1887, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for autotomy

International Scientific Vocabulary

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Time Traveler for autotomy

Time Traveler

The first known use of autotomy was in 1887

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Dictionary Entries Near autotomy

autotomizer muscle



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Statistics for autotomy

Cite this Entry

“Autotomy.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for autotomy


au·​tot·​o·​my | \ ȯ-ˈtät-ə-mē How to pronounce autotomy (audio) \
plural autotomies

Medical Definition of autotomy

: reflex separation of a part from the body especially in an invertebrate

More from Merriam-Webster on autotomy Encyclopedia article about autotomy


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