AskDefine | Define autochthonous

Dictionary Definition

autochthonous adj
1 of rocks, deposits, etc.; found where they and their constituents were formed [ant: allochthonous]
2 originating where it is found; "the autochthonal fauna of Australia includes the kangaroo"; "autochthonous rocks and people and folktales"; "endemic folkways"; "the Ainu are indigenous to the northernmost islands of Japan" [syn: autochthonal, autochthonic, endemic, indigenous]

User Contributed Dictionary



Literally, "native to the soil"; from autochthon.


  • a RP /ɔːˈtɒkθənəs/, /O:"takT@n@s/
  • a US /ɑːˈtɑːkθənəs/


  1. Native to the place where found; indigenous.
    • 1889, Justin Winsor, Narrative and Critical History of America, Vol. I, p. 375.
      Two of the most celebrated of the evolutionists reject the autochthonous view, for Darwin's Descent of Man and Haeckel's Hist. of Creation consider the American man an emigrant from the old world, whatever way the race may have developed
  2. In the context of "biology|medicine": Originating, where found.
  3. Buried in place, especially of a fossil preserved in its life position without disturbance or disarticulation.
    • 1992 — Anna K. Behrensmeyer, et al., Terrestrial Ecosystems Through Time, page 83
      Death and burial may be simultaneous, resulting in a preserved snapshot of an autochthonous assemblage that may be compared directly with present day ecosystems.


  • Polish: autochtoniczny


  • autochthonous was the winning word at the 2004 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Extensive Definition

Autochthon (and variants thereof) may refer to:
Autochthonous is the adjective and autochthon is the noun. From auto + the Greek chthon, the earth, soil = sprung from the earth or the soil itself.
See also: Chthon
autochthonous in German: Autochthon
autochthonous in Georgian: ავტოხთონი
autochthonous in Russian: Автохтон
autochthonous in Slovak: Autochtónnosť

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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