Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

atavistic

[at-uh-vis-tik]
See more synonyms for atavistic on Thesaurus.com
adjective
  1. of, relating to, or characterized by atavism; reverting to or suggesting the characteristics of a remote ancestor or primitive type.
Show More

Origin of atavistic

First recorded in 1870–75; atav(ism) + -istic
Related formsat·a·vis·ti·cal·ly, adverb
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for atavistic

simple, naive, rudimentary, underdeveloped, unsophisticated, undeveloped, savage, natural, barbarian, raw, animal, wild, rough, austere, barbarous, childlike, fierce, ignorant, rude, uncivilized

Examples from the Web for atavistic

Contemporary Examples of atavistic

Historical Examples of atavistic

  • It is only an atavistic phenomenon, the return to a former state.

    Criminal Man

    Gina Lombroso-Ferrero

  • The criminal is an atavistic being, a relic of a vanished race.

    Criminal Man

    Gina Lombroso-Ferrero

  • This is of great importance in view of the atavistic origin of crime.

    Criminal Man

    Gina Lombroso-Ferrero

  • Citizen Howard Temple-Tracy is a dangerous, atavistic, evil genius.

    Gun for Hire

    Dallas McCord Reynolds

  • Perhaps it is atavistic—this desire to rest and swing in a hamaca.

    Edge of the Jungle

    William Beebe


British Dictionary definitions for atavistic

atavistic

adjective
  1. of or relating to reversion to a former or more primitive type
Show More
Derived Formsatavistically, adverb
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

Word Origin and History for atavistic

adj.

"pertaining to atavism," 1847; see atavism + -ic.

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

atavistic in Science

atavistic

[ăt′ə-vĭstĭk]
  1. Relating to an inherited trait that reappears in an individual after being absent from a strain of organism for several generations. Atavistic traits were formerly thought to be throwbacks to ancestral types but are now known to be due to the inheritance of a pair of recessive genes.
Show More
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.