Definition of Atavism

1. Noun. A reappearance of an earlier characteristic.

Exact synonyms: Reversion, Throwback
Generic synonyms: Recurrence, Return
Derivative terms: Atavist

Definition of Atavism

1. n. The recurrence, or a tendency to a recurrence, of the original type of a species in the progeny of its varieties; resemblance to remote rather than to near ancestors; reversion to the original form.

Definition of Atavism

1. Noun. The reappearance of an ancestral characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence. ¹

2. Noun. The recurrence or reversion to a past behaviour, method, characteristic or style after a long period of absence. ¹

3. Noun. (sociology) Reversion to past primitive behavior, especially violence. ¹

¹ Source:

Definition of Atavism

1. the reappearance of a genetic characteristic after several generations of absence [n -S]

Medical Definition of Atavism

1. The recurrence, or a tendency to a recurrence, of the original type of a species in the progeny of its varieties; resemblance to remote rather than to near ancestors; reversion to the original form. The recurrence of any peculiarity or disease of an ancestor in a subsequent generation, after an intermission for a generation or two. "Now and then there occur cases of what physiologists call atavism, or reversion to an ancestral type of character." (J. Fiske) Origin: L. Atavus an ancestor, fr. Avus a grandfather. Source: Websters Dictionary (01 Mar 1998)

Atavism Pictures

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Lexicographical Neighbors of Atavism

ataractic agent
ataractic drug
atavism (current term)
ataxia cordis
ataxia of calves
ataxia of lambs
ataxia telangiectasia syndrome

Literary usage of Atavism

Below you will find example usage of this term as found in modern and/or classical literature:

1. Proceedings, International Conference on Plant Breeding and Hybridization by C. Raveret-Wattel (1904)
"A paper on "Artificial atavism," by Hugo de Vries, Director of the Botanical Gardens, Amsterdam, was read hy DT MacDougal, of the New York Botanical Gardens ..."

2. Evolution and Animal Life: An Elementary Discussion of Facts, Processes by David Starr Jordan, Vernon Lyman Kellogg (1907)
"atavism or reversion is the process of "throwing back," by which in some degree an ... This is family atavism, and its nature is readily recognized. ..."

3. Genetics; an Introduction to the Study of Heredity by Herbert Eugene Walter (1922)
"THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN REVERSION AND atavism THERE are two ways in which types of animals or plants that are different from the present ones may be ..."

4. The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication by Charles Darwin (1890)
"INHERITANCE continued—REVERSION OR atavism. ... as shown by the scientific term atavism, derived from atavus, an ancestor; by the English terms of ..."

5. Evolution and Disease by John Bland-Sutton (1891)
"atavism OR REVERSION. MUCH that is fanciful and speculative is mixed up with the ... On the present occasion atavism or reversion will be considered only in ..."

6. Plant-breeding: Being Six Lectures Upon the Amelioration of Domestic Plants by Liberty Hyde Bailey (1912)
"This is known as atavism. The so-called atavistic forms are likely to be ... The following statements touching some of the relations of atavism to the ..."

7. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease by American Neurological Association, Philadelphia Neurological Society, Chicago Neurological Society, New York Neurological Association, Boston Society of Psychiatry and Neurology (1894)
"AMONG the examples of psychic atavism, the most notable one is that which makes itself evident in the relation that exists between religious emotion and ..."

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