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atavistic

IPA

How to pronounce atavistic (audio)

Dictionary definition of 'atavistic'

Traits or behaviors that have reappeared after being dormant for many generations.
"The eerie howl of the wolf awakened an atavistic fear deep within her."

Detailed meaning of 'atavistic'

Atavistic is an adjective that describes something that is characteristic of an earlier ancestral type or reminiscent of more primitive or ancestral traits. It is often used in biology to describe the reappearance of ancestral characteristics that were previously thought to have been lost in a particular species. For example, a bird may display atavistic wing feathers, which were present in its ancient ancestors but have not been seen in more recent generations. In a cultural or psychological context, atavistic can refer to behavior or values that are perceived to be primitive or uncivilized, or to a resurgence of historical or traditional customs or practices. The term is often used to suggest a throwback to a less evolved or less developed state.

History and etymology of 'atavistic'

The adjective 'atavistic' has its origins in the Latin word 'atavus,' which means 'great-great-great-grandfather' or 'ancestor.' In Latin, 'atavus' was a term used to refer to one's remote ancestors. Over time, this term evolved into 'atavistic' in English, describing traits or behaviors that have reappeared after lying dormant for many generations. The concept of atavism is rooted in the idea that certain characteristics or tendencies may skip several generations only to resurface unexpectedly, reflecting traits from distant ancestors. The etymology of 'atavistic' highlights its connection to ancestral heritage and the resurgence of long-dormant qualities, offering insight into its usage to describe such phenomena in contemporary contexts.

Example sentences containing 'atavistic'

1. The atavistic rituals of their culture had survived for countless generations.
2. The atavistic sense of community within the tribe remained unshaken.
3. The atavistic desire for dominance emerged in their competitive behaviors.
4. Despite urbanization, some atavistic customs held strong in rural areas.
5. His atavistic fascination with fire harkened back to ancient rituals.
6. The atavistic impulse to protect their offspring was a powerful force.
7. The atavistic reverence for natural elements was deeply rooted.
8. Her atavistic suspicion of strangers stemmed from ancestral caution.
9. The atavistic bonds of kinship were celebrated in their traditions.
10. In times of scarcity, atavistic survival skills became essential.
11. The atavistic longing for simpler times persisted in their art.
12. The atavistic yearning for adventure drove them to explore new lands.
13. Their atavistic respect for elders was a cherished value.
14. The atavistic fear of predators haunted their collective memory.
15. The atavistic response to danger was swift and coordinated.
16. His atavistic instincts for navigation guided them through the wilderness.
17. The atavistic echoes of ancient languages still lingered in their speech.
18. The atavistic connection to the stars played a role in their mythology.
19. The atavistic pull of the ocean drew them to its shores for generations.

Synonyms

synonym

Quiz categories containing 'atavistic'

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Multiple Choice Game

Multiple Choice

Opposite Words Game

Opposite Words

Same or Different Game

Same/different

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Spelling Bee

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