word-forming element meaning "self, one's own, by oneself, of oneself" (and especially, from 1895, "automobile"), from Greek autos, reflexive pronoun, "self, same," which is of unknown origin. It also was a common word-forming element in ancient Greek, as in modern English, but very few of the old words have survived the interval. In Greek, as a word-forming element, auto- had the sense of "self, one's own, of oneself ('independently'); of itself ('natural, native, not made'); just exactly; together with." Before a vowel, it became aut-; before an aspirate, auth-. In Greek it also was used as a prefix to proper names, as in automelinna "Melinna herself." The opposite prefix would be allo-.
updated on March 05, 2017