• WordNet 3.6
    • n atavism a reappearance of an earlier characteristic
    • ***
Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Atavism recurrence of or reversion to a past style, outlook, approach, or manner.
    • Atavism The recurrence of any peculiarity or disease of an ancestor in a subsequent generation, after an intermission for a generation or two.
    • Atavism 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.
    • ***
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • n atavism In biology, reversion, through the influence of heredity, to ancestral characters; resemblance exhibited by a given organism to some remote ancestor; the return to an early or original type by its modified descendants; restoration of structural characters which have been lost or obscured. Atavism, to some slight extent, is witnessed in the human race, when children exhibit some peculiarity of grandparents, or of still more remote progenitors, which has skipped one or more generations.
    • n atavism In pathology, the recurrence of any peculiarity or disease of an ancestor in remote generations.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • n Atavism at′av-izm frequent appearance of ancestral, but not parental, characteristics in an animal or plant: reversion to an original type
    • ***


Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
L. atavus, an ancestor, fr. avus, a grandfather
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
L. atavusavus, a grandfather.


In literature:

Atavism is not so much the persistence of the earlier, as the absence of the later stages of psychical development.
"The Evolution of Love" by Emil Lucka
M. Bergson's philosophy itself is a confession of a certain mystical rebellion and atavism in the contemporary mind.
"Winds Of Doctrine" by George Santayana
I have often been amused to see how frequently this law of atavism is either misunderstood or ignored.
"The Boston Terrier and All About It" by Edward Axtell
We shall be driven more particularly to consider Mr Kipling's atavism in discussing his tales of the British Army.
"Rudyard Kipling" by John Palmer
Then she read "Atavism," and her little highly bred face looked savage!
"Man and Maid" by Elinor Glyn
If it were an atavism or a rudimentary organ some social surgery or other might relieve us of it.
"The Psychology of Nations" by G.E. Partridge
This case of atavism is truly singular.
"On the Genesis of Species" by St. George Mivart
Altogether a good deal of nonsense has been written about atavism.
"Woman" by William J. Robinson
The lesson taught by the law of atavism is very plain.
"The Principles of Breeding" by S. L. Goodale
He was an atavism; of the race of those white-bodied, ferocious sea-kings that drank deep and died in the din of battle.
"The Trail of '98" by Robert W. Service

In news:

'God of Carnage' exposes atavism in a bourgeois living room.
'God of Carnage ' exposes atavism in a bourgeois living room.

In science:

The case of atavisms shows that this is in principle possible.
A Developmental Network Theory of Gynandromorphs, Sexual Dimorphism and Species Formation