- the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.
- an individual embodying such a reversion.
Origin of atavism
OTHER WORDS FROM atavismat·a·vist, noun
How to use atavism in a sentence
This article is excerpted from American Hippopotamus, a recent single from The Atavist.Lake Bacon: The Story of The Man Who Wanted Us to Eat Mississippi Hippos|Jon Mooallem|August 10, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Environment cannot make a model citizen of the "born criminal," or atavist.
But, if the prisoner is an atavist it is his nature to be furious and cruel.
For it is not a fault, but a misfortune, to be born an atavist.
If the atavist is "wicked," the shark, and the wolf, and the adder are "wicked."
Say the prisoner is an atavist; a man bred back to the beasts.