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[aw-tom-uh-ton, -tn] /ɔˈtɒm əˌtɒn, -tn/
noun, plural automatons, automata
[aw-tom-uh-tuh] /ɔˈtɒm ə tə/ (Show IPA)
a mechanical figure or contrivance constructed to act as if by its own motive power; robot.
a person or animal that acts in a monotonous, routine manner, without active intelligence.
something capable of acting automatically or without an external motive force.
1605-15; < Latin: automatic device < Greek, noun use of neuter of autómatos spontaneous, acting without human agency, equivalent to auto- auto-1 + -matos, adj. derivative from base of memonénai to intend, ménos might, force
Related forms
automatous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for automaton
  • Even the walnut-sized automaton hidden inside the egg has a majestic appeal.
  • Humans are not pigeons, nor some kind of reward based automaton.
  • It was the first type of that kind of underwater automaton to do that type of work.
  • During these trials, the children became far less interested in the friendly automaton.
  • It helped to popularize amateur automaton tinkering.
  • It was an overwhelming performance, an organic image of an automaton come to life.
  • Booty, who grew up in a football family, was the accurate automaton.
  • Clearly, this is no corporate automaton serving up market-tested demographic bait.
  • Sometimes survival is easier if the mind or the memory is removed, leaving only a well-oiled, obedient automaton.
  • See also suffix tree, inverse suffix array, suffix automaton.
British Dictionary definitions for automaton


/ɔːˈtɒməˌtɒn; -tən/
noun (pl) -tons, -ta (-tə)
a mechanical device operating under its own hidden power; robot
a person who acts mechanically or leads a routine monotonous life
Derived Forms
automatous, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from Greek, from automatos spontaneous, self-moving
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for automaton

1610s, from Latin automaton (Suetonius), from Greek automaton, neuter of automatos "self-acting," from autos "self" (see auto-) + matos "thinking, animated, willing," from PIE *mn-to-, from root *men- "to think" (see mind (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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automaton in Technology

robotics, mathematics, algorithm
(Plural automata) A machine, robot, or formal system designed to follow a precise sequence of instructions.
Automata theory, the invention and study of automata, includes the study of the capabilities and limitations of computing processes, the manner in which systems receive input, process it, and produce output, and the relationships between behavioural theories and the operation and use of automated devices.
See also cellular automaton, finite state machine.

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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