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From Biology-Online Dictionary | Biology-Online Dictionary
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Origin: L. Fr. Gr, neut. Of self-moving; self _ a root ma, man, to strive, think, cf. To strive. See mean, v. I.

1. Any thing or being regarded as having the power of spontaneous motion or action. So great and admirable an automaton as the world. (Boyle) These living automata, human bodies. (Boyle)

2. A self-moving machine, or one which has its motive power within itself; applied chiefly to machines which appear to imitate spontaneously the motions of living beings, such as men, birds, etc.