a plural of automaton.


[aw-tom-uh-ton, -tn]

noun, plural au·tom·a·tons, au·tom·a·ta [aw-tom-uh-tuh] /ɔˈtɒm ə tə/.

a mechanical figure or contrivance constructed to act as if by its own motive power; robot.
a person or animal that acts in a monotonous, routine manner, without active intelligence.
something capable of acting automatically or without an external motive force.

Origin of automaton

1605–15; < Latin: automatic device < Greek, noun use of neuter of autómatos spontaneous, acting without human agency, equivalent to auto- auto-1 + -matos, adj. derivative from base of memonénai to intend, ménos might, force
Related formsau·tom·a·tous, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for automata

Historical Examples of automata

  • Vaucanson, however, did not confine himself merely to the making of automata.


    Samuel Smiles

  • It was simultaneous on the part of all, and resembled that of automata, moved by machinery.

  • But in the case of man, what automata, indeed, have we not here!

  • There they stood, automata, representatives of the society which streamed past them.

  • You think, too, then, that were all in such a rut; living Chinese lives; automata?

    Adrienne Toner

    Anne Douglas Sedgwick

British Dictionary definitions for automata



a plural of automaton


noun plural -tons or -ta (-tə)

a mechanical device operating under its own hidden power; robot
a person who acts mechanically or leads a routine monotonous life
Derived Formsautomatous, adjective

Word Origin for automaton

C17: from Latin, from Greek, from automatos spontaneous, self-moving
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 automata



1610s, from Latin automaton (Suetonius), from Greek automaton, neuter of automatos "self-acting," from autos "self" (see auto-) + matos "thinking, animated, willing," from PIE *mn-to-, from root *men- "to think" (see mind (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper