1650s, "an eye-witnessing, a seeing for oneself," from Modern Latin autopsia, from Greek autopsia "a seeing with one's own eyes," from autos- "self" (see auto-) + opsis "a sight" (from PIE root *okw- "to see"). Sense of "dissection of a body to determine cause of death" is first recorded 1670s, probably from the same sense in French autopsie (1570s). Related: Autopsic; autoptic. As a verb by 1900.
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