Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The reappearance of a characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence, usually caused by the chance recombination of genes.
  • n. An individual or a part that exhibits atavism. Also called throwback.
  • n. The return of a trait or recurrence of previous behavior after a period of absence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The reappearance of an ancestral characteristic in an organism after several generations of absence.
  • n. The recurrence or reversion to a past behaviour, method, characteristic or style after a long period of absence.
  • n. Reversion to past primitive behavior, especially violence.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n.
  • 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.
  • n. The recurrence of any peculiarity or disease of an ancestor in a subsequent generation, after an intermission for a generation or two.
  • n. recurrence of or reversion to a past style, outlook, approach, or manner.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. In biology, reversion, through the influence of heredity, to ancestral characters; resemblance exhibited by a given organism to some remote ancestor; the return to an early or original type by its modified descendants; restoration of structural characters which have been lost or obscured.
  • n. In pathology, the recurrence of any peculiarity or disease of an ancestor in remote generations.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a reappearance of an earlier characteristic

Etymologies

French atavisme, from Latin atavus, ancestor : atta, father + avus, grandfather; see awo- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French atavisme. (Wiktionary)

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