[ aw-ton-uh-muhs ]
See synonyms for: autonomousautonomously on

  1. Government.

    • self-governing; independent; subject to its own laws only.

    • pertaining to an autonomy, or a self-governing community.

  2. having autonomy; not subject to control from outside; independent: a subsidiary that functioned as an autonomous unit.

  1. (of a machine, device, etc.) able to operate with little or no human control or intervention: an autonomous vehicle.

  2. Biology.

    • existing and functioning as an independent organism.

    • growing naturally or spontaneously, without cultivation.

Origin of autonomous

First recorded in 1790–1800; from Greek autónomos “with laws of one's own, independent,” equivalent to auto- auto-1 + nóm(os) “law, custom” + -os adjective suffix

Other words from autonomous

  • au·ton·o·mous·ly, adverb
  • non·au·ton·o·mous, adjective
  • non·au·ton·o·mous·ness, noun

Words Nearby autonomous Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use autonomous in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for autonomous


/ (ɔːˈtɒnəməs) /

  1. (of a community, country, etc) possessing a large degree of self-government

  2. of or relating to an autonomous community

  1. independent of others

  2. philosophy

    • acting or able to act in accordance with rules and principles of one's own choosing

    • (in the moral philosophy of Kant, of an individual's will) directed to duty rather than to some other end: Compare heteronomous (def. 3) See also categorical imperative

  3. biology existing as an organism independent of other organisms or parts

  4. a variant spelling of autonomic (def. 3)

Origin of autonomous

C19: from Greek autonomos living under one's own laws, from auto- + nomos law

Derived forms of autonomous

  • autonomously, 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