Automatic Pilot, on

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On autopilot
On automatic

Meaning of Idiom 'On Automatic Pilot'

To be on automatic pilot means to do something without thinking about it consciously; to do something in only a semi-conscious state. 1,2

Usage Examples

"The drive home was so long that by the last half of it I was on autopilot the whole way."

"I was so tired yesterday I was on automatic pilot all day. I don't know how I got through the day"

"Doctors often work such long shifts at hospitals they end up operating on autopilot."

"My job is not very interesting but it gives me lots of time to think. I can do it on automatic pilot."

To be on automatic pilot idiom
To be on automatic pilot idiom

Origin

For aircraft and ship pilots, an auto-pilot (automatic pilot) is a device that automatically keeps a plane or ship moving in the proper direction without any human involvement. When used literally, to be on autopilot means to have engaged this device rather than to be actively handling the controls. This extended to figurative use to describe when people perform actions without much thought or attention. 3

Sources
1. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.
2. Bengelsdorf, Peter. Idioms in the News - 1,000 Phrases, Real Examples. N.p.: Amz Digital Services, 2012.
3. McIntosh, Colin. Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary. Cambridge University Press, 2013.

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