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atavism

[ at-uh-viz-uhm ]
/ ˈæt əˌvɪz əm /
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noun
Biology.
  1. the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.
  2. an individual embodying such a reversion.
reversion to an earlier type; throwback.
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Origin of atavism

First recorded in 1825–35; from Latin atav(us) “great-great-great grandfather; remote ancestor, forefather” (at-, akin to atta familiar name for a grandfather, “grampa” + avus “grandfather, ancestor”) + -ism

OTHER WORDS FROM atavism

at·a·vist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use atavism in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for atavism

atavism
/ (ˈætəˌvɪzəm) /

noun
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

Derived forms of atavism

atavist, nounatavic (əˈtævɪk), adjective

Word Origin for atavism

C19: from French atavisme, from Latin atavus strictly: great-grandfather's grandfather, probably from atta daddy + avus grandfather
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

Medical definitions for atavism

atavism
[ ătə-vĭz′əm ]

n.
The appearance of characteristics that are presumed to have been present in some remote ancestor; reversion to an earlier biological type.

Other words from atavism

ata•vist n.at′a•vistic adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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