authority (n.) Look up authority at
c. 1200, autorite, auctorite "authoritative passage or statement, book or quotation that settles an argument, passage from Scripture," from Old French autorité, auctorité "authority, prestige, right, permission, dignity, gravity; the Scriptures" (12c.; Modern French autorité), from Latin auctoritatem (nominative auctoritas) "invention, advice, opinion, influence, command," from auctor "master, leader, author" (see author (n.)). Usually spelled with a -c- in English before 16c., when the letter was dropped in imitation of French.

From c. 1300 in the general sense "legal validity," also "authoritative book; authoritative doctrine" (opposed to reason or experience); "author whose statements are regarded as correct." From mid-14c. as "right to rule or command, power to enforce obedience." In Middle English also "value, good reputation; power to convince people, capacity for inspiring trust." From c. 1400 as "official sanction, authorization." Meaning "people in authority" is from 1610s; Authorities "those in charge, those with police powers" is recorded from mid-19c.
authorization (n.) Look up authorization at
c. 1600, from authorize + noun ending -ation. Earlier form was auctorisation (late 15c.).
authorize (v.) Look up authorize at
late 14c., auctorisen, autorisen, "give formal approval or sanction to," also "confirm as authentic or true; regard (a book) as correct or trustworthy," from Old French autoriser, auctoriser "authorize, give authority to" (12c.) and directly from Medieval Latin auctorizare, from auctor (see author (n.)). Modern spelling from 16c. Related: Authorized; authorizing.
authorship (n.) Look up authorship at
c. 1500, "the function of being a writer," from author (n.) + -ship. Meaning "literary origin" is attested from 1825.
autism (n.) Look up autism at
1912, from German Autismus, coined 1912 by Swiss psychiatrist Paul Bleuler (1857-1939) from Greek autos- "self" (see auto-) + -ismos suffix of action or of state. The notion is of "morbid self-absorption."
autistic (adj.) Look up autistic at
1912 (Bleuler), from autism (q.v.). Noun meaning "person with autism" is recorded from 1968 (earlier in this sense was autist).
auto (n.) Look up auto at
shortened form of automobile, 1899; same development yielded French auto.
auto- Look up auto- at
word-forming element meaning "self, one's own, by oneself," from Greek auto- "self, one's own," combining form of autos "self, same," which is of unknown origin. Before a vowel, aut-; before an aspirate, auth-. In Greek also used as a prefix to proper names, as in automelinna "Melinna herself." The opposite prefix would be allo-.
auto-da-fe (n.) Look up auto-da-fe at
1723, "sentence passed by the Inquisition" (plural autos-da-fé), from Portuguese auto-da-fé "judicial sentence, act of the faith," especially the public burning of a heretic, from Latin actus de fide, literally "act of faith." Although the Spanish Inquisition is better-known today, there also was one in Portugal.
auto-erotic (adj.) Look up auto-erotic at
also autoerotic, 1898, coined by Havelock Ellis from auto- + erotic. Related: Auto-eroticism. The opposite is allo-erotic.
autobahn (n.) Look up autobahn at
1937, German, from auto "motor car, automobile" + bahn "path, road," from Middle High German ban, bane "way, road," literally "strike" (as a swath cut through), from PIE *gwhen- "to strike, kill" (see bane).
autobiography (n.) Look up autobiography at
1797, from auto- + biography. Related: Autobiographical.
autocade (n.) Look up autocade at
1922, from auto(mobile) + ending from cavalcade.
autocar (n.) Look up autocar at
1895, from auto- + car.
Which is it to be? We observe that the London Times has lent the weight of its authority to the word "autocar," which it now prints without the significant inverted commas but with a hyphen, "auto-car." We believe that the vocable originated with a journal called the Hardwareman, which succeeded in obtaining the powerful support of the Engineer for its offspring. As for ourselves, being linguistic purists, we do not care for hybrid constructions--"auto" is Greek, while "car" is Latin and Celtic. At the same time, such clumsy phrases as "horseless carriages," "mechanical road carriages," and "self-propelled vehicles" are not meeting with general favour. Why not therefore adopt the philogically sound "motor-car," which could be run into a single word, "motorcar"? ["The Electrical Engineer," Dec. 20, 1895]
autochthon (n.) Look up autochthon at
1640s, "one sprung from the soil he inhabits" (plural autochthones), from Greek autokhthon "aborigines, natives," literally "sprung from the land itself," used of the Athenians and others who claimed descent from the Pelasgians, from auto- "self" (see auto-) + khthon "land, earth, soil" (see chthonic).
autochthonic (adj.) Look up autochthonic at
1827, from autochthon + -ic.
autochthonous (adj.) Look up autochthonous at
"native, indigenous," 1845, from autochthon + -ous. The opposite is allochthonous.
autoclave (n.) Look up autoclave at
1880, from French, literally "self-locking," from auto- "self" (see auto-) + Latin clavis "key" (see slot (n.2)).
autocracy (n.) Look up autocracy at
1650s, "independent power, self-sustained power," from French autocratie, from Greek autokrateia "absolute rule, rule by oneself," abstract noun from autokrates "ruling by oneself," from autos- "self" (see auto-) + kratia "rule" (see -cracy). Meaning "absolute government, supreme political power" is recorded from 1855.
autocrat (n.) Look up autocrat at
1803, from French autocrate, from Greek autokrates "ruling by oneself, absolute, autocratic," from autos- "self" (see auto-) + kratia "rule," from kratos "strength, power" (see -cracy). First used by Robert Southey, with reference to Napoleon. An earlier form was autocrator (1789), used in reference to the Russian Czars. Earliest form in English is the fem. autocratress (1762).
autocratic (adj.) Look up autocratic at
1823, from French autocratique, from autocrate, from Greek autokrates (see autocrat). Earlier autocratoric (1670s) was directly from Greek autokratorikos. Autocratical is attested from 1801.
autodidact (n.) Look up autodidact at
1746, from Greek autodidaktos "self-taught" (see autodidactic).
autodidactic (adj.) Look up autodidactic at
"self-taught," 1838, from Greek autodidaktikos "self-taught," from autos "self" (see auto-) + didaktos "taught" (see didactic).
autogenous (adj.) Look up autogenous at
"self-generated," 1846, earlier autogeneal (1650s), from Greek autogenes "self-produced," from autos "self" (see auto-) + genes "formation, creation" (see genus). Modern form and biological use of the word said to have been coined by English paleontologist Richard Owen (1804-1892).
autograph (v.) Look up autograph at
"to sign one's name," 1837, from autograph (n.). Related: Autographed; autographing. Earlier "to write with one's own hand" (1818).
autograph (n.) Look up autograph at
"a person's signature," 1791, from Latin autographum, from Greek autographon, neuter of autographos "written with one's own hand," from autos- "self" (see auto-) + graphein "to write" (originally "to scratch;" see -graphy). Used earlier (1640s) to mean "author's own manuscript."
autoharp (n.) Look up autoharp at
1882, name on a patent taken out by Charles F. Zimmermann of Philadelphia, U.S.A., for an improved type of harp, an instrument considerably different from the modern autoharp, actually a chord zither, which was invented about the same time by K.A. Gütter of Markneukirchen, Germany, who called it a Volkszither.
autoimmune (adj.) Look up autoimmune at
1952, from auto- + immune.
autolatry (n.) Look up autolatry at
"self-worship," 1620s (in Latinate form autolatria), from auto- + -latry.
automaker (n.) Look up automaker at
"manufacturer of automobiles," 1925, from auto + maker.
automat (n.) Look up automat at
"automated cafeteria," 1903, probably from automatic.
automate (v.) Look up automate at
"to convert to automatic operation," 1954, back-formation from automated (q.v.). Ancient Greek verb automatizein meant "to act of oneself, to act unadvisedly." Related: Automating.
automated (adj.) Look up automated at
1952, American English, adjective based on automation.
automatic (n.) Look up automatic at
"automatic weapon," 1902, from automatic (adj.). Meaning "motorized vehicle with automatic transmission" is from 1949.
automatic (adj.) Look up automatic at
"self-acting, moving or acting on its own," 1812, from Greek automatos, used of the gates of Olympus and the tripods of Hephaestus (also "without apparent cause, by accident"), from autos "self" (see auto-) + matos "thinking, animated" (see automaton). Of involuntary animal or human actions, from 1748, first used in this sense by English physician and philosopher David Hartley (1705-1757). In reference to a type of firearm, from 1877; specifically of machinery that imitates human-directed action from 1940.
automatically (adv.) Look up automatically at
1834, "involuntarily, unconsciously;" see automatic + -ly (2).
automation (n.) Look up automation at
1948, in the manufacturing sense, coined by Ford Motor Co. Vice President Delmar S. Harder, from automatic + -ion. Earlier (1838) was automatism, which meant "quality of being automatic" in the classical sense.
automatization (n.) Look up automatization at
1924, noun of action from automatize.
automatize (v.) Look up automatize at
1837, "to make into an automaton;" see automaton + -ize. Meaning "to make automatic" attested by 1952. Related: Automatized; automatizing.
automaton (n.) Look up automaton at
1610s, from Latin automaton (Suetonius), from Greek automaton, neuter of automatos "self-acting," from autos "self" (see auto-) + matos "thinking, animated, willing," from PIE *mn-to-, from root *men- (1) "to think, remember" (see mind (n.)).
automobile (n.) Look up automobile at
"self-propelled motor vehicle," 1895, from French automobile, short for véhicule automobile (see automobile (adj.)). The modern Greek calls it autokineto "moved of itself." The French word had competition in the early years from locomobile; in English other early forms were motorcar and autocar. An electrical car was an electromobile (1899).
automobile (adj.) Look up automobile at
1883, in reference to electric traction cars, from French automobile (adj.), 1861, a hybrid from Greek autos "self" (see auto-) + French mobile "moving," from Latin mobilis "movable" (see mobile (adj.)).
automotive (adj.) Look up automotive at
1865, in reference to some sort of helicopter-like device, a hybrid from auto- "self," from Greek, + motive (adj.), from Latin. Meaning "pertaining to automobiles" is from 1898.
autonomic (adj.) Look up autonomic at
1832, "pertaining to autonomy" (q.v.); used mostly in physiology. Autonomical is recorded from 1650s.
autonomous (adj.) Look up autonomous at
1800, from Greek autonomos "having one's own laws," of animals, "feeding or ranging at will," from autos "self" (see auto-) + nomos "law," from PIE root *nem- "to assign, allot; to take" (see nemesis). Compare privilege. Used mostly in metaphysics and politics; see autonomic.
autonomy (n.) Look up autonomy at
1620s, of states, from Greek autonomia "independence," noun of quality from autonomos "independent, living by one's own laws," from auto- "self" (see auto-) + nomos "custom, law" (see numismatics). Of persons, from 1803.
autophobia (n.) Look up autophobia at
"fear of referring to oneself," 1845 (as autophoby), from Greek autos "self" (see auto-) + -phobia "fear." Related: Autophobic; autophobe.
autopilot (n.) Look up autopilot at
1935, from auto- + pilot (n.).
autopsy (n.) Look up autopsy at
1650s, "an eye-witnessing," from Modern Latin autopsia, from Greek autopsia "a seeing with one's own eyes," from autos- "self" (see auto-) + opsis "a sight" (see eye (n.)). Sense of "dissection of a body to determine cause of death" is first recorded 1670s, probably from the same sense in French autopsie (1570s).
autosome (n.) Look up autosome at
coined 1906 by U.S. cytologist T.H. Montgomery (1873-1912), from auto- + -some (3)). Related: Autosomal.