Meaning of autonomous phoneme

auton'omous pho'neme

Pronunciation: [key]
— Ling. Ling.
  1. a phoneme that is defined or determined by its contrast in sound with other phonemes, without reference to its role in morphology or any other level of linguistic analysis beyond the phonetic level. Also calledCf. systematic phoneme.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.