- the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.
- an individual embodying such a reversion.
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Origin of atavism
OTHER WORDS FROM atavismat·a·vist, noun
Words nearby atavism
Example sentences from the Web for atavism
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.
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.
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