animal

noun
an·​i·​mal | \ ˈa-nə-məl How to pronounce animal (audio) \

Definition of animal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (such 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 (such 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
2a : one of the lower animals (see lower entry 3 sense 3) as distinguished from human beings
b : mammal broadly : vertebrate
3 : a human being considered chiefly as physical or nonrational also : this nature
4 : a person with a particular interest or aptitude a political animal He's a party animal.
5 : matter, thing the theater … is an entirely different animal— Arthur Miller also : creature sense 1c

animal

adjective

Definition of animal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, resembling, or derived from animals animal instincts animal behavior
2a : of or relating to the physical or sentient as contrasted with the intellectual or rational
b : sensual, fleshly indulged his animal appetites
3 : of or relating to the animal pole of an egg or to the part from which ectoderm normally develops

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Other Words from animal

Noun

animallike \ ˈa-​nə-​mə(l)-​ˌlīk How to pronounce animallike (audio) \ adjective

Adjective

animally \ ˈa-​nə-​mə-​lē How to pronounce animally (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for animal

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for animal

Adjective

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

Did You Know?

Latin anima means “breath” or “soul,” and animalis, the adjective that comes from it, means “having breath or soul.” An animal such as a cat or dog can be seen to breathe. Plants breathe too, by taking in certain gases from the atmosphere and releasing others. However, this process cannot be observed by the naked eye. So the noun animal, which comes from animalis, was borrowed from Latin for that group of living beings that breathe visibly.

Examples of animal in a Sentence

Noun the animals in the zoo the plants and animals of the forest She loves all kinds of animals. Fish, birds, insects, reptiles, mammals, and human beings are all animals. You're all behaving like a bunch of animals. Adjective several different plant and animal species milk, meat, and other animal products People were shocked by the animal brutality of the attack.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun But not every animal species has benefited from the freedom of having fewer humans around. Matt Simon, Wired, "The Anthropause: How the Pandemic Gives Scientists a New Way to Study Wildlife," 29 June 2020 And a platypus with that duck bill and beaver body is an animal unlike any other. oregonlive, "Canzano: New name for Civil War rivalry is right under Oregon and Oregon State’s nose," 27 June 2020 One of the cutest seat-fillers has been in the cafe at Izu Shaboten Zoo in Shizuoka, Japan, which is filled with plump capybara stuffed animals, an animal the zoo is famous for housing. Maura Judkis, Washington Post, "Everything is fine and normal. Just ask the mannequin at the next table.," 25 June 2020 In colliding with a new type of animal, a chemical that might once have served to fuddle the wits of pests has been transformed into a glittering lure. Gareth Cook, Scientific American, "A Poetic, Mind-Bending Tour of the Fungal World," 24 June 2020 In fact, finding an animal to take in is like hitting the jackpot. Heather Knight, SFChronicle.com, "SF residents share the unexpected delights and discoveries of shelter in place," 23 June 2020 Every shelter handles its foster program differently, but Bershadker says most volunteers care for an animal at home from two weeks to a few months. Vicky Hallett, National Geographic, "Here’s how kids can volunteer, even from home," 23 June 2020 Like cataloguers of beleaguered animal species, paternoster preservationists have produced maps of the approximately 300 active paternoster lifts in operation around the world. Anne Quito, Quartz at Work, "Covid-19 is a problem for elevators. Is the paternoster lift the solution?," 18 June 2020 The mascot of the Naval Academy is a goat, an animal often brought aboard ships. Melissa Mohr, The Christian Science Monitor, "The odd origins of some familiar idioms," 18 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective These clouds of dust make up one of the greatest annual migrations on the planet—not animal, but mineral. Sabrina Imbler, The Atlantic, "Saharan Dust Storms Are Giving Earth Life," 24 June 2020 The event will focus on the human and animal connections, development and youth education. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Zoos, museums reopen; Kings Island sues; vaccine conspiracy; protesters should get tested," 5 June 2020 The pandemic challenges us to recognize the immense experiment that planet Earth is, and that human beings are part of the same community—all peoples, past and future ancestors, animal human beings, tree human beings. Wired Staff, Wired, "After the Virus: How We'll Learn, Age, Move, Listen, and Create," 18 June 2020 The event will focus on the human and animal connections, development and youth education. Sarah Brookbank, Cincinnati.com, "Zoos, museums reopen; Kings Island sues; vaccine conspiracy; protesters should get tested," 5 June 2020 The event will focus on the human and animal connections, development and youth education. Chris Sims, The Indianapolis Star, "2020 Indiana State Fair canceled due to coronavirus pandemic," 4 June 2020 When the game begins, the player only has a tent and two animal friends rather than a preexisting village stocked with talking animals. Ed Masley, azcentral, "What is Animal Crossing? What to know about the Nintendo game everyone's obsessing over," 15 Apr. 2020 In a separate paper published on the cave earlier this year, researchers reported discovering 15,000 animal bones in the cave, most from monkeys and squirrels. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Tiny Stone Tools Show Humans Hunted in the Rainforest 45,000 Years Ago," 7 Oct. 2019 That’s right, whale poop...because what kid doesn’t find animal poop fascinating? Isabel Garcia, House Beautiful, "This Virtual Marine Biology Camp for Kids Is Fun and Educational," 25 Mar. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'animal.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of animal

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1581, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for animal

Noun and Adjective

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

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Time Traveler for animal

Time Traveler

The first known use of animal was in the 14th century

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Statistics for animal

Last Updated

2 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Animal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/animal. Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for animal

animal

noun
How to pronounce animal (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of animal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: 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

animal

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of animal (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to animals
: coming from the bodies of animals
: of or relating to the body and not to the mind

animal

noun
an·​i·​mal | \ ˈa-nə-məl How to pronounce animal (audio) \

Kids Definition of animal

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 : any of the animals lower than humans in the natural order the animals in the zoo
3 : mammal the birds and animals of the forest

animal

noun
an·​i·​mal | \ ˈan-ə-məl How to pronounce animal (audio) \

Medical Definition of animal

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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 response to stimulation
2a : one of the lower animals as distinguished from human beings
b : mammal broadly : vertebrate

animal

adjective

Medical Definition of animal (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of, relating to, or derived from animals
2 : of or relating to the animal pole of an egg or to the part from which ectoderm normally develops

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More from Merriam-Webster on animal

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for animal

Spanish Central: Translation of animal

Nglish: Translation of animal for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of animal for Arabic Speakers

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