- 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.
Origin of atavism
Examples from the Web for atavist
Contemporary Examples of atavist
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
August 10, 2014
Historical Examples of atavist
Environment cannot make a model citizen of the "born criminal," or atavist.
If the atavist is "wicked," the shark, and the wolf, and the adder are "wicked."
For it is not a fault, but a misfortune, to be born an atavist.
But, if the prisoner is an atavist it is his nature to be furious and cruel.
Say the prisoner is an atavist; a man bred back to the beasts.
- 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
Word Origin for atavism
1833, from French atavisme, attested by 1820s, from Latin atavus "ancestor, forefather," from at- perhaps here meaning "beyond" + avus "grandfather," from PIE *awo- "adult male relative other than the father" (see uncle).
- The appearance of characteristics that are presumed to have been present in some remote ancestor; reversion to an earlier biological type.