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[aw-tom-uh-tuh] /ɔˈtɒm ə tə/
a plural of automaton.


[aw-tom-uh-ton, -tn] /ɔˈtɒm əˌtɒn, -tn/
noun, plural automatons, automata
[aw-tom-uh-tuh] /ɔˈtɒm ə tə/ (Show IPA)
a mechanical figure or contrivance constructed to act as if by its own motive power; robot.
a person or animal that acts in a monotonous, routine manner, without active intelligence.
something capable of acting automatically or without an external motive force.
Origin of automaton
1605-15; < Latin: automatic device < Greek, noun use of neuter of autómatos spontaneous, acting without human agency, equivalent to auto- auto-1 + -matos, adj. derivative from base of memonénai to intend, ménos might, force
Related forms
automatous, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for automata
Historical Examples
  • Vaucanson, however, did not confine himself merely to the making of automata.

    Self-Help Samuel Smiles
  • It was simultaneous on the part of all, and resembled that of automata, moved by machinery.

    The Riflemen of the Miami Edward S. Ellis
  • But in the case of man, what automata, indeed, have we not here!

    Evolution, Old & New Samuel Butler
  • There they stood, automata, representatives of the society which streamed past them.

  • You think, too, then, that were all in such a rut; living Chinese lives; automata?

    Adrienne Toner Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • That machines or automata could invent, is a thing not easily explicable.

    The Insect Jules Michelet
  • And one would like to know what our conviction that we are not automata has to do with it.

    A Grammar of Freethought Chapman Cohen
  • It is probable that he made the automata which I saw in Russia.

  • Slaves, puppets, automata who were content to masquerade in the guise of men!

    What a Man Wills Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
  • Stiff-legged, like automata themselves, the two men stepped to the top of the line.

    The Brain Alexander Blade
British Dictionary definitions for automata


a plural of automaton


/ɔːˈtɒməˌtɒn; -tən/
noun (pl) -tons, -ta (-tə)
a mechanical device operating under its own hidden power; robot
a person who acts mechanically or leads a routine monotonous life
Derived Forms
automatous, adjective
Word Origin
C17: from Latin, from Greek, from automatos spontaneous, self-moving
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 automata



1610s, from Latin automaton (Suetonius), from Greek automaton, neuter of automatos "self-acting," from autos "self" (see auto-) + matos "thinking, animated, willing," from PIE *mn-to-, from root *men- "to think" (see mind (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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