[aw-tom-uh-ton, -tn]
See more synonyms for automaton on
noun, plural au·tom·a·tons, au·tom·a·ta [aw-tom-uh-tuh] /ɔˈtɒm ə tə/.
  1. a mechanical figure or contrivance constructed to act as if by its own motive power; robot.
  2. a person or animal that acts in a monotonous, routine manner, without active intelligence.
  3. 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. 2018

Examples from the Web for automaton

Contemporary Examples of automaton

Historical Examples of automaton

  • As to the automaton, Mrs. Beaufort, Robert made sure of her discretion.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • Like an automaton he turned again and paced to the hall door.

    The Street That Wasn't There

    Clifford Donald Simak

  • I was an automaton turning a crank in the frozen stillness of the long, long night.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • You take orders like an automaton, and you go execute them like an automaton.

    The Long Roll

    Mary Johnston

  • Like an automaton the man stepped forward, and after him paced the white horse.

British Dictionary definitions for automaton


noun plural -tons or -ta (-tə)
  1. a mechanical device operating under its own hidden power; robot
  2. 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 automaton

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