1. Any of numerous multicellular eukaryotic organisms of the kingdom Metazoa (or Animalia) that ingest food rather than manufacturing it themselves and are usually able to move about during at least part of their life cycle. Sponges, jellyfishes, flatworms, mollusks, arthropods, and vertebrates are animals.
2. An animal organism other than a human, especially a mammal.
3. A person who behaves in a bestial or brutish manner.
4. A human considered with respect to their physical nature, as opposed to rational or spiritual nature.
5. A person having a specified aptitude or set of interests: “that rarest of musical animals, an instrumentalist who is as comfortable on a podium with a stick as he is playing his instrument” (Lon Tuck).
1. Relating to, characteristic of, or derived from an animal or animals, especially when not human: animal cells; animal welfare.
2. Relating to the physical as distinct from the rational or spiritual nature of people: animal instincts and desires.
[Middle English, from Latin, from animāle, neuter of animālis, living, from anima, soul; see anə- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.