what is atavistic impulse?

newname

Senior Member
Vietnamese
Hi everyone,

What is an atavistic impulse in the following text:
The Mesolithic English lived in settlements such as that found at Thatcham in Berkshire; the modern town itself is in fact the latest version of human community on the same site. Some atavistic impulse keeps habitations in the same place.
I have looked up the words and here is my rephrase. Is it correct?

Some sudden, genetically inherited desire keeps habitations in the same place.
Thank you very much.
 
  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    impulse /ˈɪmpʌls/ n
    • an impelling force or motion; thrust; impetus
    • a sudden desire, whim, or inclination
    • an instinctive drive; urge
    http://www.wordreference.com/definition/impulse

    atavism /ˈætəˌvɪzəm/ n
    • the recurrence in a plant or animal of certain primitive characteristics that were present in an ancestor but have not occurred in intermediate generations
    • reversion to a former or more primitive type
    http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/atavistic
    Some atavistic impulse keeps habitations in the same place.
    Some instinctive urge to revert to a former state keeps habitations in the same place.
     

    owlman5

    Senior Member
    English-US
    I'd drop "genetically inherited" from that answer, newname.

    To me, "atavistic impulse" in that sentence means "an impulse to behave as earlier humans behaved."

    cross-posted with Biffo
     

    newname

    Senior Member
    Vietnamese
    Thank you two. Historians like to use such high-register, obscure words that non-natives like me find it hard to understand, even with lots of dictionaries around.
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top