- the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.
- an individual embodying such a reversion.
- reversion to an earlier type; throwback.
Origin of atavism
Examples from the Web for atavism
I used the word 'atavism' to mean a reversion to the primitive.Measure for a Loner
James Judson Harmon
Can I explain, can anyone explain, the mysterious vagaries of atavism?Uncanny Tales
Altogether a good deal of nonsense has been written about atavism.Woman</p>
William J. Robinson
I would not omit to mention also the law of Atavism, in this discussion of heredity.What a Young Woman Ought to Know
For a short moment he hesitated but atavism and necessity were against him.Skippy Bedelle
- the recurrence in a plant or animal of certain primitive characteristics that were present in an ancestor but have not occurred in intermediate generations
- reversion to a former or more primitive type
Word Origin and History for atavism
1833, from French atavisme, attested by 1820s, from Latin atavus "ancestor, forefather," from at- perhaps here meaning "beyond" + avus "grandfather," from PIE *awo- "adult male relative other than the father" (see uncle).
- The appearance of characteristics that are presumed to have been present in some remote ancestor; reversion to an earlier biological type.