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1. The reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence.
2. An individual or a part that exhibits atavism. Also called throwback.
3. The return of a trait or recurrence of previous behavior after a period of absence.
[French atavisme, from Latin atavus, ancestor : atta, father + avus, grandfather; see awo- in Indo-European roots.]
1. (Biology) the recurrence in a plant or animal of certain primitive characteristics that were present in an ancestor but have not occurred in intermediate generations
2. reversion to a former or more primitive type
[C19: from French atavisme, from Latin atavus strictly: great-grandfather's grandfather, probably from atta daddy + avus grandfather]
at•a•vism(ˈæt əˌvɪz əm)
a. the reappearance in an individual of characteristics of some remote ancestor that have been absent in intervening generations.
b. an individual embodying such a reversion.
2. reversion to an earlier type; throwback.
[1825–35; < Latin atav(us) remote ancestor (at-, akin to atta familiar name for a grandfather + avus grandfather, forefather) + -ism]
the reappearance in the present of a characteristic belonging to a remote ancestor. — atavist, n. — atavistic, adj.See also: Ancestors