ro·​bot ˈrō-ˌbät How to pronounce robot (audio)
plural robots
: a machine that resembles a living creature in being capable of moving independently (as by walking or rolling on wheels) and performing complex actions (such as grasping and moving objects)
When the next space launch heads for Mars, on board will be dozens of tiny mobile robots that will fan out across the Martian landscape, exploring every nook and cranny.Michael Bowker
often : such a machine built to resemble a human being or animal in appearance and behavior
While science fiction robots have been capable of independent thought, emotions, even a little cooking and sewing, scientists are finding that endowing a mechanical being with even the most basic human functions is a monumental challenge. Greg Freiherr
As a sign of the times, paleontologists themselves have taken to … designing dinosaur robots and displays … Malcolm W. Browne
often used before another noun
a robot dog
a robot servant
compare android, bot entry 1
: a device that automatically performs complicated, often repetitive tasks (as in an industrial assembly line)
the use of robots in car manufacturing
… factories run by robots producing many replicas of one product.Morris Philipson
often used before another noun
For fluid applications, especially in the automotive industry, the robot arm must have extremely flexible movement.Harry H. Poole
: a mechanism guided by automatic controls
a robot airplane
: a person who resembles a machine in seeming to function automatically or in lacking normal feelings or emotions
… seems to believe that professors are robots, students are superficial, grade-hungry receptacles …Micaela Rubalcava
robotism noun

Did you know?

In 1920, Czech writer Karel Čapek published a play titled R.U.R. Those initials stood for "Rossum's Universal Robots," which was the name of a fictional company that manufactured human-like machines designed to perform hard, dull, dangerous work for people. The machines in the play eventually grew to resent their jobs and rebelled—with disastrous results for humans. During the writing of his play, Čapek consulted with his brother, the painter and writer Josef Čapek, who suggested the name robot for these machines, from the Czech word robota, which means "forced labor." Robot made its way into our language in 1922 when R.U.R. was translated into English.

Examples of robot in a Sentence

The cars are assembled by robots.
Recent Examples on the Web Photograph: iRobot iRobot Roomba Combo i5 Robot Vacuum & Mop for $230 ($70 off) The Roomba helped create the robot vacuum revolution and this model is one of its most affordable ways to get in on the movement, including mopping capabilities. Medea Giordano, WIRED, 27 Nov. 2023 That Takes Window Cleaning to the Next Level Embrace the future of cleaning with a robot window cleaner. Poppy Morgan, Rolling Stone, 24 Nov. 2023 The actor squanders the opportunity to offer something different when playing the robot version of his character, resorting to a lame fart joke and making silly expressions. Murtada Elfadl, Variety, 23 Nov. 2023 Uneven ground, wet surfaces, and unexpected obstacles such as tripwires or even rocks can topple robots. Audrey Kurth Cronin, Foreign Affairs, 22 Nov. 2023 Mystery Science Theater 3000’s Turkey Day Marathon Watching Joel (or Mike) (or Jonah) and his robot friends Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot watch bad movies is as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as arguing with your uncle across the table. James Grebey, Vulture, 22 Nov. 2023 Muratore and her collaborators believe an army ant’s collaborative capabilities could soon help engineers program swarms of robots based on the insect’s behavior principles and brains. Andrew Paul, Popular Science, 22 Nov. 2023 Countries in the East such as China, The Republic of Korea, and Japan are world-leading in key areas like robot density and high-tech and medium-high-tech manufacturing. Bysoumitra Dutta, Fortune Europe, 21 Nov. 2023 After the shooting, authorities said a state police bomb squad robot investigated a suspicious vehicle on the hospital’s campus, a U-Haul. Joe Kottke, NBC News, 18 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'robot.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Czech, from robota compulsory labor; akin to Old High German arabeit trouble, Latin orbus orphaned — more at orphan

First Known Use

1922, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of robot was in 1922


Dictionary Entries Near robot

Cite this Entry

“Robot.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


ro·​bot ˈrō-ˌbät How to pronounce robot (audio)
: a machine that looks and acts like a human being
: a capable but unfeeling person
: a device that automatically performs tasks that are complicated and often continuously repeated

from Czech robot "a machine that looks human and performs dull or dangerous work," from robota "forced labor, work"

Word Origin
In 1923 a play by the Czech author Karel Čapek introduced the word robot to English. The title of the play, R.U.R., stood for "Rossum's Universal Robots," a fictional company that manufactured robots. These humanlike machines were supposed to perform all the hard, dull, and dangerous work for people, but they finally became resentful and rebelled, killing all humans. Čapek formed the word robot from the Czech robota, meaning "forced labor." The play was very popular and influential. As a result, the word robot came to have several meanings, including "a human being who has become brutal and insensitive or machinelike because of overwork and mistreatment." It is used today for machines that may not look human but do perform dangerous or dull work.

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