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[aw-ton-uh-muh s] /ɔˈtɒn ə məs/
  1. self-governing; independent; subject to its own laws only.
  2. pertaining to an autonomy, or a self-governing community.
having autonomy; not subject to control from outside; independent:
a subsidiary that functioned as an autonomous unit.
  1. existing and functioning as an independent organism.
  2. growing naturally or spontaneously, without cultivation.
Origin of autonomous
1790-1800; < Greek autónomos with laws of one's own, independent, equivalent to auto- auto-1 + nóm(os) law, custom + -os adj. suffix
Related forms
autonomously, adverb
nonautonomous, adjective
nonautonomously, adverb
nonautonomousness, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for autonomous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Can art—creative art, where the spirit would seem most autonomous—itself determine reality?

    Three Plays Luigi Pirandello
  • What does "the autonomous development of small nations" mean to them?

  • To be strictly accurate, the significance of the -ness is not quite as inherently determined, as autonomous, as it might be.

    Language Edward Sapir
  • But the autonomous activity was revived by the action of light on the pulvinule.

    Life Movements in Plants Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose
  • The autonomous activity of growth is ultimately derived from energy supplied by the environment.

    Life Movements in Plants Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose
British Dictionary definitions for autonomous


(of a community, country, etc) possessing a large degree of self-government
of or relating to an autonomous community
independent of others
  1. acting or able to act in accordance with rules and principles of one's own choosing
  2. (in the moral philosophy of Kant, of an individual's will) directed to duty rather than to some other end Compare heteronomous (sense 3) See also categorical imperative
(biology) existing as an organism independent of other organisms or parts
a variant spelling of autonomic (sense 3)
Derived Forms
autonomously, adverb
Word Origin
C19: from Greek autonomos living under one's own laws, from auto- + nomos law
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 autonomous

1800, from Greek autonomos "having one's own laws," of animals, "feeding or ranging at will," from autos "self" (see auto-) + nomos "law" (see numismatics). Cf. privilege. Used mostly in metaphysics and politics; see autonomic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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