noun (plural automata /-tə/ or automatons)
1A moving mechanical device made in imitation of a human being.
- The earliest ‘robots’ were the fixed-base mechanical automatons of the 18th century.
- The story went that Descartes was so struck with grief that he created an automaton, a mechanical doll, built exactly identical to his dead daughter.
- With 842 lots, the sale will be in two parts: fine toys, biscuit tins and toy soldiers next Tuesday; and mechanical music, automata, dolls and doll's houses on October 30.
robot, android, cyborg, droid, bot
1.1A machine that performs a function according to a predetermined set of coded instructions, especially one capable of a range of programmed responses to different circumstances.
- In computer science, an automaton is an abstract machine that can serve as a model of computation.
- We know how to build toy thinking machines, automatons, but that's not the same thing.
- Already in the seventeenth century the possibility was widely discussed that animals could be understood as machines or automata.
1.2Used in similes and comparisons to refer to a person who seems to act in a mechanical or unemotional way: she went about her preparations like an automaton
More example sentences
- They are not the unemotional automatons of science fiction myth.
- They are thinking human beings not automatons.
- I notice that the checkout girls in the supermarket look for eye contact with every customer, as they too need to be seen and accepted as human beings, not automatons.
Early 17th century: via Latin from Greek, neuter of automatos 'acting of itself', from autos 'self'.
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