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automaton

[aw-tom-uh-ton, -tn]
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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.
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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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for automaton

engine, apparatus, automobile, tool, appliance, instrument, motor, vehicle, gadget, contraption, widget, robot, mechanism, computer, contrivance, implement, thingamabob, automaton, laborer, clone

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

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
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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

n.

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.)).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper