At"a*vism (#), n. [L. atavus an ancestor, fr. avus a grandfather.] (a)

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.

(b) Biol.

The recurrence of any peculiarity or disease of an ancestor in a subsequent generation, after an intermission for a generation or two.

Now and then there occur cases of what physiologists call atavism, or reversion to an ancestral type of character. J. Fiske

 

© Webster 1913.

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