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automaton

[aw-tom-uh-ton, -tn] /ɔˈtɒm əˌtɒn, -tn/
noun, plural automatons, automata
[aw-tom-uh-tuh] /ɔˈtɒm ə tə/ (Show IPA)
1.
a mechanical figure or contrivance constructed to act as if by its own motive power; robot.
2.
a person or animal that acts in a monotonous, routine manner, without active intelligence.
3.
something capable of acting automatically or without an external motive force.
Origin of automaton
1605-1615
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
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for automaton
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Through it she darted, the automaton following relentlessly.

    The Master Mystery Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey
  • Like an automaton he turned again and paced to the hall door.

    The Street That Wasn't There Clifford Donald Simak
  • The automaton reached out and began rubbing sharply at the insulation of the feed wires.

    The Master Mystery Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey
  • I was an automaton turning a crank in the frozen stillness of the long, long night.

    The Trail of '98 Robert W. Service
  • Just as deliberately the automaton reached out to turn the handle of the combination.

    The Master Mystery Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey
  • You take orders like an automaton, and you go execute them like an automaton.

    The Long Roll Mary Johnston
  • Although this second automaton was very complicated, it did not so fully occupy my time as the first.

British Dictionary definitions for automaton

automaton

/ɔːˈtɒməˌtɒn; -tən/
noun (pl) -tons, -ta (-tə)
1.
a mechanical device operating under its own hidden power; robot
2.
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
n.

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.
(1996-04-23)

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010 http://foldoc.org
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