[aw-ton-uh-muh s]


  1. self-governing; independent; subject to its own laws only.
  2. pertaining to an autonomy, or a self-governing community.
having autonomy; not subject to control from outside; independent: a subsidiary that functioned as an autonomous unit.
(of a vehicle) navigated and maneuvered by a computer without a need for human control or intervention under a range of driving situations and conditions: an autonomous vehicle.
  1. existing and functioning as an independent organism.
  2. growing naturally or spontaneously, without cultivation.

Nearby words

  1. autonomic neurogenic bladder,
  2. autonomic plexus,
  3. autonomics,
  4. autonomism,
  5. autonomotropic,
  6. autonomous phoneme,
  7. autonomous syntax,
  8. autonomously,
  9. autonomy,
  10. autonym

Origin of autonomous

1790–1800; < Greek autónomos “with laws of one's own, independent,” equivalent to auto- auto-1 + nóm(os) “law, custom” + -os adj. suffix

Related formsau·ton·o·mous·ly, adverbnon·au·ton·o·mous, adjectivenon·au·ton·o·mous·ly, adverbnon·au·ton·o·mous·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for autonomous

British Dictionary definitions for autonomous



(of a community, country, etc) possessing a large degree of self-government
of or relating to an autonomous community
independent of others
  1. acting or able to act in accordance with rules and principles of one's own choosing
  2. (in the moral philosophy of Kant, of an individual's will) directed to duty rather than to some other endCompare heteronomous (def. 3) See also categorical imperative
biology existing as an organism independent of other organisms or parts
a variant spelling of autonomic (def. 3)
Derived Formsautonomously, adverb

Word Origin for autonomous

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

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 autonomous



1800, from Greek autonomos "having one's own laws," of animals, "feeding or ranging at will," from autos "self" (see auto-) + nomos "law" (see numismatics). Cf. privilege. Used mostly in metaphysics and politics; see autonomic.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper