atavism [at-uh-viz-uh m] ExamplesWord Origin noun
- the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.
- an individual embodying such a reversion.
- reversion to an earlier type; throwback.
Origin of atavism 1825–35; Latin atav(us) remote ancestor (at-, akin to atta familiar name for a grandfather + avus grandfather, forefather) +Related formsat·a·vist, noun Examples from the Web for atavist Contemporary Examples of atavist
This article is excerpted from American Hippopotamus, a recent single from The Atavist.
August 10, 2014
Historical Examples of atavist
Environment cannot make a model citizen of the “born criminal,” or atavist.
For it is not a fault, but a misfortune, to be born an atavist.
But, if the prisoner is an atavist it is his nature to be furious and cruel.
If the atavist is “wicked,” the shark, and the wolf, and the adder are “wicked.”
Say the prisoner is an atavist; a man bred back to the beasts.
British Dictionary definitions for atavist atavism noun
- the recurrence in a plant or animal of certain primitive characteristics that were present in an ancestor but have not occurred in intermediate generations
- reversion to a former or more primitive type
Derived Formsatavist, nounatavic (əˈtævɪk), adjectiveWord Origin for atavism C19: from French atavisme, from Latin atavus strictly: great-grandfather’s grandfather, probably from atta daddy + avus grandfather Word Origin and History for atavist atavism n.
1833, from French atavisme, attested by 1820s, from Latin atavus “ancestor, forefather,” from at- perhaps here meaning “beyond” + avus “grandfather,” from PIE *awo- “adult male relative other than the father” (see).
atavist in Medicine atavism [ăt′ə-vĭz′əm] n.
- The appearance of characteristics that are presumed to have been present in some remote ancestor; reversion to an earlier biological type.
Related formsat′a•vist n.at′a•vis′tic adj.