het·​er·​on·​o·​my ˌhe-tə-ˈrä-nə-mē How to pronounce heteronomy (audio)
: subjection to something else
especially : a lack of moral freedom or self-determination

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web For this reason, the passage from Arab spring to Arab winter should be understood first and foremost as a narrative of self-determination, choice, and consequences, not as a story of heteronomy and external imposition. New York Times, 12 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'heteronomy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


heter- + -nomy (as in autonomy)

First Known Use

1798, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of heteronomy was in 1798

Dictionary Entries Near heteronomy

Cite this Entry

“Heteronomy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/heteronomy. Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

More from Merriam-Webster on heteronomy

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Challenging Words You Should Know

  • hedgehog reading a book
  • Often used to describe “the march of time,” what does inexorable mean?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.