Definitions

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

  • n. A mechanical device that sometimes resembles a human and is capable of performing a variety of often complex human tasks on command or by being programmed in advance.
  • n. A machine or device that operates automatically or by remote control.
  • n. A person who works mechanically without original thought, especially one who responds automatically to the commands of others.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A machine built to carry out some complex task or group of tasks, especially one which can be programmed.
  • n. An intelligent mechanical being designed to look like a human or other creature, and usually made from metal.
  • n. A person who does not seem to have any emotions.
  • n. A traffic light (from earlier robot policeman).
  • n. A theodolite which follows the movements of a prism and can be used by a one-man crew.
  • n. A style of dance popular in disco whereby the dancer impersonates the movement of a robot

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

  • n. a mechanism that can move automatically

Etymologies

Czech, from robota, drudgery.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Czech robot, from robota ("drudgery, servitude"). Coined in the 1921 science-fiction play R.U.R. (Rossum's Universal Robots) by Karel Čapek after having been suggested to him by his brother Josef , and taken into the English translation without change. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The term robot derives from the Czech word robit, meaning "work," and came into wide use in 1923 when Karl Capek wrote a play R. U. R. (Rossum's Universal Robots), in which mechanical beings did all the work for man.

    Modern Mechanix

  • The word "robot" comes from the Czech word "robotnik", meaning serf, or

    Forbes.com: News

  • But the space program uses the term robot broadly — and the humor has been a little broad, too.

    Space: Also a Frontier for Corny Jokes - The Lede Blog - NYTimes.com

  • The 1/1-scale, 18-meter-tall statue of the title robot from the Gundam anime franchise was unveiled on Friday at its new home in central Japanese city of Shizuoka, the self-described "model capital of the world."

    Anime News Network

  • Although the term robot may suggest science fiction or exotic gadgets from Japan, robots are commonly used today in industry and the military.

    The Seattle Times

  • The term robot, coined in the 1920s, comes from the Czech word for menial forced labor.

    StarTribune.com rss feed

  • Ohata designed the title robot in Aim for the Top!

    Anime News Network

  • There are more robots this time around including the impressive Devastator with it's funnel-like capabilities, and the title robot,

    Tahoe Daily Tribune - Top Stories

  • Čapek was the first person to introduce the term robot to the world, though the term was actually invented by his brother Josef.

    BroadwayWorld.com Featured Content

  • Čapek was the first person to introduce the term robot to the world.

    BroadwayWorld.com Featured Content

Comments

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  • In South Africa, that's what traffic lights are called.

    May 1, 2011

  • I recently saw this play, and it was quite excellent. The issues raised about industrialization, outsourcing, international politics, and sentience of machines are becoming more important today than they were when it was written. I also detected quite a few subtle jabs at Communism.

    January 4, 2008

  • Coined by the Czech writer Karel Čapek in his play R.U.R. – Rossum's Universal Robots, from the Czech word robota, "forced labor".

    January 2, 2008

  • And then I will name my other cat robot. But only if it has a round-shaped head.

    December 6, 2006