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[roh-buh t, -bot] /ˈroʊ bət, -bɒt/
a machine that resembles a human and does mechanical, routine tasks on command.
a person who acts and responds in a mechanical, routine manner, usually subject to another's will; automaton.
any machine or mechanical device that operates automatically with humanlike skill.
operating automatically:
a robot train operating between airline terminals.
Origin of robot
< Czech, coined by Karel Čapek in the play R.U.R. (1920) from the base robot-, as in robota compulsory labor, robotník peasant owing such labor
Related forms
robotism, noun
robotic, robotistic
[roh-buh-tis-tik, -bo-] /ˌroʊ bəˈtɪs tɪk, -bɒ-/ (Show IPA),
robotlike, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for robot
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Martin stared at the robot with the wildest dawning of surmise.

    The Ego Machine Henry Kuttner
  • None of us knew the littlest bit about what a robot can or cannot do.

    Arm of the Law Harry Harrison
  • He yawned and took his feet off the desk to acknowledge the call and then a robot removed the desk.

    Mezzerow Loves Company Floyd L. Wallace
  • I know a robot can't be happy or sad—but Ned seems to be happy.

    Arm of the Law Harry Harrison
  • Gaines slid an instrument back into the pouch of his suit, and patted the robot's rump.

    The Small World of M-75 Ed M. Clinton, Jr.
British Dictionary definitions for robot


any automated machine programmed to perform specific mechanical functions in the manner of a man
(modifier) not controlled by man; automatic: a robot pilot
a person who works or behaves like a machine; automaton
(South African) a set of traffic lights
Derived Forms
robotic, adjective
robotism, robotry, noun
robot-like, adjective
Word Origin
C20: (used in R.U.R., a play by Karel Čapek) from Czech robota work; related to Old Slavonic rabota servitude, German Arbeit work
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 robot

1923, from English translation of 1920 play "R.U.R." ("Rossum's Universal Robots"), by Karel Capek (1890-1938), from Czech robotnik "slave," from robota "forced labor, compulsory service, drudgery," from robotiti "to work, drudge," from an Old Czech source akin to Old Church Slavonic rabota "servitude," from rabu "slave," from Old Slavic *orbu-, from PIE *orbh- "pass from one status to another" (see orphan). The Slavic word thus is a cousin to German Arbeit "work" (Old High German arabeit). According to Rawson the word was popularized by Karel Capek's play, "but was coined by his brother Josef (the two often collaborated), who used it initially in a short story."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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robot in Medicine

robot ro·bot (rō'bət, -bŏt')

  1. A mechanical device that sometimes resembles a human and is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance.

  2. A machine or device that operates automatically or by remote control.

  3. A person who works mechanically without original thought, especially one who responds automatically to the commands of others.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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robot in Science
A machine designed to replace human beings in performing a variety of tasks, either on command or by being programmed in advance.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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robot in Technology

1. A mechanical device for performing a task which might otherwise be done by a human, e.g. spraying paint on cars.
See also cybernetics.
2. An IRC or MUD user who is actually a program. On IRC, typically the robot provides some useful service. Examples are NickServ, which tries to prevent random users from adopting nicks already claimed by others, and MsgServ, which allows one to send asynchronous messages to be delivered when the recipient signs on. Also common are "annoybots", such as KissServ, which perform no useful function except to send cute messages to other people. Service robots are less common on MUDs; but some others, such as the "Julia" robot active in 1990--91, have been remarkably impressive Turing test experiments, able to pass as human for as long as ten or fifteen minutes of conversation.
3. spider.
[Jargon File]
The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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