• enPR ô-tŏm'ə-tən, IPA: /ɔːˈtɒmətən/, /ɔːˈtɒməˌtɒn/
  • IPA: /əˈtɑməˌtɑn/

automaton (plural automatons)

  1. A machine or robot designed to follow a precise sequence of instructions.
    • 2004, Alan Hollinghurst, The Line of Beauty, Bloomsbury, 2005, Chapter 9,
      Nick had heard her play through the very beginning of it a dozen times, until he was screaming at her in his head to go on. Well, now she did, watching her own hands busying up and down the keyboard as if they were astonishing automata that she had wound up and set in motion, in perfect synchrony, to produce this silvery flow of sound.
  2. A person who acts like a machine or robot, often defined as having a monotonous lifestyle and lacking in emotion.
    Due to her strict adherence to her daily schedule, Jessica was becoming more and more convinced that she was an automaton.
    • A departure from principle in one instance becomes a precedent for a second, that second for a third, and so on 'til the bulk of the society is reduced to be mere automatons of misery, to have no sensibilities left but for sinning and suffering.
  3. A formal system, such as finite automaton.
  4. A toy in the form of a mechanical figure.
  5. (dated) The self-acting power of the muscular and nervous systems, by which movement is effected without intelligent determination.
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