noun ro·bot \ ˈrō-ˌbät , -bət \
|Updated on: 9 Jul 2018
plural robots
1 : 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, 3bot
2 a : 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
b : a mechanism guided by automatic controls
  • a robot airplane
3 : 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


play \ˈrō-ˌbä-ˌti-zəm, -bə-\ noun

robot was our Word of the Day on 09/06/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of robot in a Sentence

  1. The cars are assembled by robots.

Recent Examples of robot from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of robot

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

Other Mechanical Engineering Terms

ROBOT Defined for English Language Learners


  • : a real or imaginary machine that is controlled by a computer and is often made to look like a human or animal

  • : a machine that can do the work of a person and that works automatically or is controlled by a computer

ROBOT Defined for Kids


noun ro·bot \ ˈrō-ˌbät \
1 : a machine that looks and acts like a human being
2 : a machine that can do the work of a person automatically or under the control of a computer

History for robot

In 1923 the play R.U.R., by Karel Čapek, opened in London and New York. In the play “R.U.R.” stands for “Rossum's Universal Robots,” a company formed by an English scientist named Rossum to manufacture humanlike machines called “robots” to do hard, boring jobs. In Czech—the language of what is today the Czech Republic and the original language of the play—the word robota means “forced labor,” and Čapek based his new coinage “robot” on this word. Čapek's play was popular, and soon the word became a general term for machines that can perform the tasks of a person.

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