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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
  • On these technologies autonomous decision making and independent action by robotic spacecraft relies.
  • Offering minor choices will help motivate power-driven, autonomous and aggressive children.
  • California community colleges are governed by local, autonomous districts.
  • The development of autonomous vehicles has not skidded to a halt, however.
  • And the idea of armed autonomous robots is too risky.
  • If you have autonomous control of your classrooms, you have less to worry about.
  • It was established as an autonomous region in 1981 by the statute of autonomy.
  • It is an autonomous region.
  • At the college level, students need to be (largely) autonomous learners.
  • It is comprised of approximately 500 autonomous clubs.
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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