Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Not controlled by others or by outside forces; independent: an autonomous judiciary; an autonomous division of a corporate conglomerate.
  • adj. Independent in mind or judgment; self-directed.
  • adj. Independent of the laws of another state or government; self-governing.
  • adj. Of or relating to a self-governing entity: an autonomous legislature.
  • adj. Self-governing with respect to local or internal affairs: an autonomous region of a country.
  • adj. Autonomic.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Self-governing. Intelligent, sentient, self-aware, thinking, feeling, Governing independently.
  • adj. Acting on one's own or independently; of a child, acting without being governed by parental or guardian rules.
  • adj. Used with no subject, indicating an unknown or unspecified agent; used in similar situations as the passive in English (the difference being that the theme in the English passive construction is the subject, while in the Celtic autonomous construction the theme is the object and there is no subject).

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Independent in government; having the right or power of self-government.
  • adj. Having independent existence or laws.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of or pertaining to autonomy or an autonomy.
  • Independent in government; having the right of self-government.
  • Subject to its own laws; specifically, in biology, independent of any other organism; not a form or stage of development of some other organism.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. (of political bodies) not controlled by outside forces
  • adj. (of persons) free from external control and constraint in e.g. action and judgment
  • adj. existing as an independent entity

Etymologies

From Greek autonomos : auto-, auto- + nomos, law; see nem- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
See autonomy and -ous. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The team coined the phrase "autonomous checkout clerk," which is exactly what follows, as the robot locates the bar code by spinning the object in its hands, reading the numeric code, and then putting the item in a bag.

    CNET News.com

  • The term autonomous system refers to a network that is within the control of a single company or organization.

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  • We use the term autonomous geographies to define '… those spaces where there is a desire to constitute non-capitalist, collective forms of politics, identity and citizenship, which are created through a combination of resistance and creation, and the questioning and challenging of dominant laws and social norms.'

    Space and Culture

  • China, sensitive to instability or any other perceived threat to one-party rule, is wary of foreigners in its ethnic border areas, which it calls "autonomous regions", especially ahead of politically charged anniversaries.

    China closes Tibet to foreigners ahead of party anniversary

  • Last summer, News Corp. set up what it calls an autonomous committee to liaise with police and provide any documents requested.

    Arrests Intensify News Corp.'s U.K. Crisis

  • Last summer, News Corp. established what it calls an autonomous committee to liaise with police and provide any documents requested.

    Pressure Builds on News Corp.

  • Last summer, News Corp. established what it calls an autonomous committee to liaise with police and provide any documents requested by investigators.

    Sun Journalists Arrested as Bribe Probe Widens

  • When and under what circumstances missile defense computers are actually turned loose in autonomous mode is something you won't hear much public discussion about.

    I, for one, want to welcome our robotic overlords ... - NASA Watch

  • Leave him in autonomous mode to explore his environment in a variety of ways or control him directly.

    Master Windu | SciFi, Fantasy & Horror Collectibles

  • It said, there's a stimulus money funding cyber physical system research in autonomous urban vehicles.

    Google Isn't The First To Dream Of Robotic Cars

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