Definition of atavistic in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌatəˈvɪstɪk/


Relating to or characterized by reversion to something ancient or ancestral: atavistic fears and instincts
More example sentences
  • This atavistic fear of bodily hair is entirely compatible with a religion that sought to separate man from his animal origins.
  • His fate evokes the atavistic fear of Nature's fury that has been with us since the dawn of history.
  • If there was one striking thing about this performance, it is that it reminded the audience that live theatre is probably our most ancient art, which is why something deep and atavistic thrills when the curtain goes up.



Pronunciation: /ˈatəvɪz(ə)m/
Example sentences
  • Under such circumstances, racism is not an historical atavism, but an entirely normal, and constantly growing, feature of the political landscape.
  • Much media and political comment has explained the profundity and rootedness of this feeling in terms of bigotry and criminality, of archaism and atavism.
  • You don't have to share the cloyingly sentimental atavism he displays towards Ireland to appreciate his energy and enterprise as a writer who finds material for his novels in every corner of the world.


Pronunciation: /atəˈvɪstɪk(ə)li/
Example sentences
  • Our society has become less cruelly conservative, our politics less atavistically nationalistic, and our culture less turgidly insular.
  • There was always something atavistically satisfying about knowing where you stood in international sports - supporting Germany, Argentina, Greece, Albania, whoever.
  • There's something atavistically pleasing about not throwing away kitchen scraps; it makes you feel a better person in some small way.


Late 19th century: based on Latin atavus 'forefather' + the adjectival suffix -istic.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: at¦av|is¦tic

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