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90s Slang You Should Know


[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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for automaton
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Through it she darted, the automaton following relentlessly.

    The Master Mystery Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey
  • It was followed by a stillness not only of the automaton itself, but also of ourselves.

    The Blue Wall Richard Washburn Child
  • The automaton reached out and began rubbing sharply at the insulation of the feed wires.

    The Master Mystery Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey
  • The truth was that I had almost forgotten this latter creature, the automaton.

    The Blue Wall Richard Washburn Child
  • Just as deliberately the automaton reached out to turn the handle of the combination.

    The Master Mystery Arthur B. Reeve and John W. Grey
  • He can tell you of the message the automaton scrawled for him on a bit of paper.

    The Blue Wall Richard Washburn Child
  • Although this second automaton was very complicated, it did not so fully occupy my time as the first.

British Dictionary definitions for 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 automaton

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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