automatic

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on automatic pilot

also on automatic
doing something without thinking about how or why you do it All the actors in this play seemed to be operating on automatic pilot, and none of them was very good.
Usage notes: also used in the form on autopilot with the same meaning: I was so tired, I was simply running on autopilot.
Related vocabulary: running on empty
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of automatic pilot (a system that flies a plane without human effort)
See also: automatic, on, pilot

on automatic pilot

  (informal) also on autopilot (informal)
if you are on automatic pilot, or do something on automatic pilot, you do something without thinking about what you are doing, usually because you have done it many times before By the second week of the election campaign she was making all her speeches on automatic pilot.
See also: automatic, on, pilot

on automatic

Functioning by or as if by automatic machine or device.
See also: automatic, on
References in classic literature ?
I must confess that my satisfaction with my first theories of an automatic civilization and a decadent humanity did not long endure.
Once again the girl smiled her slow smile and stepping closer, caressed the barrel of my automatic.
With the automatic swiftness of a wild animal the black gathered himself to spring.
The obsequious lackey--the automatic genie of the house which belonged to none of the three men,--stood like a graven statue after having helped them in.
To complete his costume, a floppy felt hat, distinctly Rembrandtish in effect, perched half on his head and mostly over one ear; a sixpenny, white cotton undershirt covered his torso; and from a belt about his middle dangled a tobacco pouch, a sheath-knife, filled clips of cartridges, and a huge automatic pistol in a leather holster.
Automatic and involuntary as his heart-beating and air-breathing, was his defence of his meat once he had his paw on it, his teeth in it.
It was not until several days later that he became interested in Bertie, when that young adventurer insisted on showing him an automatic 44-caliber pistol.
The increase of alcoholic consumption is automatic.
It was this automatic assumption of a role that was considered imperative.
On that account Engineer Murchison hastened to San Francisco, and had some enormous grappling-irons fixed on an automatic system, which would never let the projectile go if it once succeeded in seizing it in its powerful claws.
Like tailors' dummies they were headless; and like tailors' dummies they had a handsome unnecessary humpiness in the shoulders, and a pigeon-breasted protuberance of chest; but barring this, they were not much more like a human figure than any automatic machine at a station that is about the human height.
Dulcie turned like an automatic doll to the landlady.
I had devised an automatic jib-sheet which passed the jib across of itself, so there was no need for Maud to attend to that; but she was still hoisting the jib when I put the wheel hard down.
Whether it be instinctive or whether it result from the pedestrian education of childhood may be doubtful; it is, at any rate, less automatic than the previous acts, for a man might by conscious effort learn to perform it more skilfully, or even to suppress it altogether.
What do you know about them, you of all men, a bundle of nerves and brains, with a motor for a heart, and an automatic brake upon your passions?
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