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Word of the Day
Friday, April 22, 2005

Definitions for atavism

  1. The reappearance in an organism of characteristics of some remote ancestor after several generations of absence.
  2. One that exhibits atavism; a throwback.
  3. Reversion to an earlier behavior, outlook, or approach.

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Citations for atavism
Occasionally a modern whale is born having sprouted a leg or two -- a genetic throwback known as an atavism. Douglas H. Chadwick, National Geographic
Read avidly in Europe and the United States in the 1890s, The Female Offender argues that women criminals are atavisms or throwbacks to earlier evolutionary stages, marked by physical anomalies such as coarse features. Nicole Rafter, The Women's Review of Books
Origin of atavism
Atavism comes from French atavisme, from Latin atavus, "ancestor," from atta, "daddy" + avus, "grandfather." The adjective form is atavistic.