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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.]

at′a·vist n.
at′a·vis′tic adj.
at′a·vis′ti·cal·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


of or relating to atavism
ˌataˈvistically adv
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


Reappearing after being absent from a strain of organism for several generations. Used of an inherited trait.

atavism noun
The American Heritage® Student Science Dictionary, Second Edition. Copyright © 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Adj.1.atavistic - characteristic of an atavist
regressive - opposing progress; returning to a former less advanced state
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


[ˌætəˈvɪstɪk] ADJatávico
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˌætəˈvɪstɪk] (formal) adj [fear, sense, instinct, emotion] → atavique
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007
References in classic literature ?
But some strains of germplasm carry an excessive freightage of memories--are, to be scientific, more atavistic than other strains; and such a strain is mine.
It gave the explanation, gave sanity to the pranks of this atavistic brain of mine that, modern and normal, harked back to a past so remote as to be contemporaneous with the raw beginnings of mankind.
And all my austere nights of midnight oil, all the books I had read, all the wisdom I had gathered, went glimmering before the ape and tiger in me that crawled up from the abysm of my heredity, atavistic, competitive and brutal, lustful with strength and desire to outswine the swine.
Hayward sought his acquaintance; but Philip had an unfortunate trait: from shyness or from some atavistic inheritance of the cave-dweller, he always disliked people on first acquaintance; and it was not till he became used to them that he got over his first impression.
Thus "the unconscious" becomes a sort of underground prisoner, living in a dungeon, breaking in at long intervals upon our daylight respectability with dark groans and maledictions and strange atavistic lusts.
"By this time he was getting old, and philosophic, and tolerant, and spiritually atavistic. He fired out the Second Reformed Wesleyans, called back the exiles from Samoa, invited in the traders, held a general love-feast, took the lid off, proclaimed religious liberty and high tariff, and as for himself went back to the worship of his ancestors, dug up the idols, reinstated a few octogenarian priests, and observed the tabus.
The sectarian, atavistic and anti-modern mindset championed by the IS must be challenged by ulema, Muslim governments and thinkers to ensure that such a movement does not re-emerge and attract disillusioned souls with its promises of an extremist utopia.
"500 Words You Should Know" is Caroline Taggart's instructive reference for anyone who has ever wanted to ameliorate their atavistic lexicon, engage in a little intellectual badinage, or been discombobulated by tricky diction.
Reason and moderation are giving way to atavistic passions, insane hatred and self-destructive machismo.
Pressed by the unequivocal warnings of the international community, Zaev's offensive and the atavistic, paranoid and radical structures in the party, the leadership of VMRO-DPMNE isn't going to and is not allowed to express an opinion on the issue of Macedonia's Euro-Atlantic integration because it turns out that those being of an opinion different from the appeal to boycott the referendum are sent death threats.
Our atavistic fear of one another, our tendency to extreme violence and destruction, particularly under the stresses of conflict, the ease with which we seem to lose our own humanity, and with that, all those higher noble qualities we all possess - mercy, compassion, forgiveness, our love for each other as members of the human race."
The awaited festival is going to unfold itself at Ambernath's very own quaint and atavistic Shiv Mandir on this month from February 16th and will go on for three days till February 18th.