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noun an·i·mal \ˈa-nə-məl\

Simple Definition of animal

  • : a living thing that is not a human being or plant

  • : any living thing that is not a plant

  • : a person who behaves in a wild, aggressive, or unpleasant way

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of animal

  1. 1 :  any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (as protozoans) that typically differ from plants in having cells without cellulose walls, in lacking chlorophyll and the capacity for photosynthesis, in requiring more complex food materials (as proteins), in being organized to a greater degree of complexity, and in having the capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor responses to stimulation

  2. 2 a :  one of the lower animals as distinguished from human beings b :  mammal; broadly :  vertebrate

  3. 3 :  a human being considered chiefly as physical or nonrational; also :  this nature

  4. 4 :  a person with a particular interest or aptitude <a political animal>

  5. 5 :  matter, thing <the theater … is an entirely different animal — Arthur Miller>; also :  creature 1c

animallikeplay \-mə(l)-ˌlīk\ adjective

Examples of animal in a sentence

  1. the animals in the zoo

  2. the plants and animals of the forest

  3. She loves all kinds of animals.

  4. Fish, birds, insects, reptiles, mammals, and human beings are all animals.

  5. You're all behaving like a bunch of animals.

Origin of animal

Latin, from animale, neuter of animalis animate, from anima soul — more at animate

First Known Use: 14th century

Other Zoology Terms



adjective an·i·mal

Simple Definition of animal

  • : of or relating to animals

  • : coming from the bodies of animals

  • : of or relating to the body and not to the mind

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of animal

  1. 1 :  of, relating to, resembling, or derived from animals

  2. 2 a :  of or relating to the physical or sentient as contrasted with the intellectual or rational b :  sensual, fleshly

  3. 3 :  of or relating to the animal pole of an egg or to the part from which ectoderm normally develops

animallyplay \-mə-lē\ adverb

Examples of animal in a sentence

  1. several different plant and animal species

  2. milk, meat, and other animal products

  3. People were shocked by the animal brutality of the attack.


First Known Use of animal


Synonym Discussion of animal

carnal, fleshly, sensual, animal mean having a relation to the body. carnal may mean only this but more often connotes derogatorily an action or manifestation of a person's lower nature <a slave to carnal desires>. fleshly is less derogatory than carnal <a saint who had experienced fleshly temptations>. sensual may apply to any gratification of a bodily desire or pleasure but commonly implies sexual appetite with absence of the spiritual or intellectual <fleshpots providing sensual delights>. animal stresses the physical as distinguished from the rational nature of a person <led a mindless animal existence>.

Other Zoology Terms

ANIMAL Defined for Kids


noun an·i·mal \ˈa-nə-məl\

Definition of animal for Students

  1. 1 :  any member of the kingdom of living things (as earthworms, crabs, birds, and people) that differ from plants typically in being able to move about, in not having cell walls made of cellulose, and in depending on plants and other animals as sources of food

  2. 2 :  any of the animals lower than humans in the natural order <the animals in the zoo>

  3. 3 :  mammal <the birds and animals of the forest>

Word Root of animal

The Latin word anima, meaning “breath” or “spirit,” gives us the root anim. Words from the Latin anima have something to do with having breath or spirit. An animal is a living creature that breathes and can move around on its own. To animate something is to give it breath or life. Someone magnanimous has a courageous spirit.

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