Automaton to Axinomancy

Automaton - plural, automatons or automata. Machines which imitate the actions, etc., of living creatures. The most famous are the following: - (1) The pigeon that could fly, made, B.C. 400, by Archy tas, of Tarentum; (2) the wooden eagle of Regiomontanus, the German, which flew from the city of Koenigsberg to meet the emperor, saluted him, and returned, 1436--1476; (3) the duck of Vaucanson of Grenoble, which could eat and drink, and even in a way digest food; its wings, viscera, bones, etc., minutely resembled those of a living animal. Vaucanson also made an image of Pan, which, at the beck of Syrinx, rose from his seat, played on his pipe, bowed when applauded, and sat down again. He also made an asp which, on being touched by an actress, in the character of Cleopatra, flew at her breast with a malignant hiss. Louis XV set him to make a human figure, but he died before he had completed it. (Greek, autos-mao , I self-move.) (See Android.)

Pierre Droz and his son Louis were noted for their automatons; so was Frederick of Knause (Vienna). The chess-player of Wolfgang, baron of Kempelen, in 1784, created quite a furor in Paris. Napoleon on one occasion played chess with this automaton. (See Brazen Heads.)

Automedon A coachman. He was the charioteer of Achilles.

Autumn He is come to his autumn, i.e. to be hanged, to his "fall." A pun on the plan of "turning a man off" by dropping the plank on which he stands. The drop is the "leaf," and autumn is called the "fall," or "fall of the leaf."

Ava in Burmah, has marble quarries of which idols are made, and only priests are allowed to trade there. (Symes, vol. ii. p. 376.)

"As on Ava's snore,
Where none but priests are privileged to trade
In that best marble of which gods are made." T. Moore: Lulla Rookh, part I.

Avalanche (3 syl.) means properly something which goes downwards (French, à val). The word is applied to a mass of snow mixed with earth, ice, and stones, which slips down a mountain side to the lower ground. Metaphorically, we speak of an "avalanche of applause," an "avalanche of bouquets" showered on the stage, etc.

Avalon An ocean island, where King Arthur resided and was buried. The word means "Apple island" (aval , apple; yn, island); and it is generally thought to mean Glastonbury, a name derived from the Saxon glastn (green like glass).

Avant Courier (French, avant courrier.) A "messenger sent before" to get things ready for a party of travellers, or to announce their approach. Anything said or done to prepare the way for something more important to follow, a feeler, a harbinger.

Avant Garde (French.) The van or advanced guard of an army.

Avatar The advent to earth of a deity in a visible form. The ten avataras of Vishnu, in Hindû mythology, are by far the most celebrated. 1st advent, in the form of a fish, 2nd, in that of a tortoise; 3rd, of a hog; 4th, of a monster, half man and half lion, to destroy the giant Iranian; 5th, in the form of a dwarf (this Avatar is called Varumna): 6th, in human form, under the name of Râma, 7th, under the same figure and name, to slay the thousand-armed giant Cartasuciriargunan; 8th, as a child named Krishna, who performed numerous miracles (this is the most memorable of all the advents); 9th, under the form of Buddha. These are all past. The 10th advent will be in the form of a white horse (Kalki) with wings, to destroy the earth.

"In Vishnu land what avatar?
Or who in Moscow, towards the czar?"
Ave Maria [Hail, Mary! ] [Ave, 2 syl.). The first two words of the angel's salutation to the Virgin Mary. (Luke i. 28.) In the Roman Catholic Church the phrase is applied to an invocation to the Virgin beginning with those words; and also to the smaller beads of a rosary, the larger ones being termed pater-nosters.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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