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 That's a key feature since robot vacuums have small dust chambers and have to be emptied frequently. Noah Kaufman, Bon Appétit, 17 July 2024 The robot vacuum can effectively sweep away dirt and debris from hard floor surfaces and carpet due to its powerful suction capabilities, and virtually no area will be missed thanks to its Matrix Clean technology, which provides a thorough clean by giving each spot multiple pass-throughs. Alicia Geigel, Better Homes & Gardens, 17 July 2024 There are discounts galore on handy cleaning gadgets, including this Roomba robot vacuum and mop to thoroughly tidy your floors without any muscle work on your end, as well as this electric spin scrubber that seamlessly makes mold, mildew, and soap scum disappear from bathrooms. Clara McMahon, Peoplemag, 16 July 2024 Compatible with Alexa or Google Assistant, this ever-popular robot vac is also super discounted right now. Audrey Lee, Architectural Digest, 16 July 2024 See all Example Sentences for robot 

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 21 Jul. 2024.

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.

More from Merriam-Webster on robot

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