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.
- at·a·vist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024
How to use atavism in a sentence
He’s all too ready, he’s been waiting to ascend the throne so long that at times in his behavior and manner he seems older than his mother, to have floated back into some haven of atavism that is far more agreeable than the twenty-first century.With Lilibet and Archie, Harry and Meghan Aim to Break the Cycle of Painful Royal Parenting | Clive Irving | June 6, 2021 | The Daily Beast
No democratic state can tolerate this kind of self-segregation and religious atavism funded at public expense.
"atavism can hardly explain a roaming animal with teeth and claws and sanguinary instincts," interrupted Maloney with impatience.Three More John Silence Stories | Algernon Blackwood
atavism, perhaps, the content to be just man again, following mans instinct to survive among the fittest.The Wasted Generation | Owen Johnson
Perforce, because he was born in our horde he stayed with us; but in actuality he was an atavism and his place was elsewhere.Before Adam | Jack London
The instinct of love is, I suppose, so fiercely primitive in us that under its tyranny we are subjected to some moral atavism.The Wasted Generation | Owen Johnson
Besides, I've got a lake up there in which we can indulge in a little atavism to the fish stage of evolution.Islands of Space | John W Campbell
British Dictionary definitions for atavism
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
- atavist, noun
- atavic (əˈtævɪk), 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