atavism (n.)

1833, in biology, "reversion by influence of heredity to ancestral characteristics, resemblance of a given organism to some remote ancestor, return to an early or original type," from French atavisme, attested by 1820s, said to have been coined by French botanist Antoine-Nicolas Duchesne (1747–1827), from Latin atavus "ancestor, forefather," from at- perhaps here meaning "beyond" + avus "grandfather," from PIE *awo- "adult male relative other than the father" (see uncle).

Share