[ aw-ton-uh-muh s ]
/ ɔˈtɒn ə məs /


  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.


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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


au·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. 2020

British Dictionary definitions for non-autonomous

/ (ɔːˈtɒnəməs) /


(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 forms of autonomous

autonomously, 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