Quiz: Remember the definition of mal de mer?


[aw-tot-uh-mee] /ɔˈtɒt ə mi/
noun, plural autotomies.
  1. separation of a body part.
  2. self-amputation of a damaged or trapped appendage.
the performance of surgery upon oneself.
1895-1900; auto-1 + -tomy
Related forms
[aw-tuh-tom-ik] /ˌɔ təˈtɒm ɪk/ (Show IPA),
autotomous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
Cite This Source
Examples from the web for autotomy
  • Adaptive strategies and energetics of tail autotomy in lizards.
British Dictionary definitions for autotomy


noun (pl) -mies
the casting off by an animal of a part of its body, to facilitate escape when attacked
Derived Forms
autotomic (ˌɔːtəˈtɒmɪk) adjective
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
Cite This Source
autotomy in Medicine

autotomy au·tot·o·my (ô-tŏt'ə-mē)
The spontaneous casting off of a body part, especially of an invertebrate, when injured or under attack.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Cite This Source
Encyclopedia Article for autotomy

the ability of certain animals to release part of the body that has been grasped by an external agent. A notable example is found among lizards that break off the tail when it is seized by a predator. The phenomenon is found also among certain worms, salamanders, and spiders. The cast-off part is sometimes regenerated

Learn more about autotomy with a free trial on
Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Cite This Source

Word of the Day

Difficulty index for autotomy

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for autotomy

Scrabble Words With Friends