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 The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS. New York Times, "As Deaths Mount, China Tries to Speed Up Coronavirus Testing," 10 Feb. 2020 If lucky enough, customers can run into various animals on the property as there are a number of cats and two golden retrievers that add an extra treat to a shopper’s trip. Jessica Wetzler, Washington Post, "Small Virginia town’s nursery amasses social media fanbase," 8 Feb. 2020 To find these viruses, the researchers isolated viral particles from dozens of tissue samples from humans and other animals and screened them for circular genomes. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Scientists discover virus with no recognizable genes," 7 Feb. 2020 At the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyongyang, official flower bouquets for medals were eschewed in favor of stuffed animals presented at the podium. Raisa Bruner, Time, "There’s a Special Meaning Behind the Flowers Medallists Will Get at the 2020 Olympics," 7 Feb. 2020 Win big points with your kids at this confluence of two childhood obsessions: comic books and animals. Drew Tewksbury, Los Angeles Times, "Surf, schools, critters, comics and the Didion hive: 5 great book events this week," 7 Feb. 2020 Researchers think the virus could have gone from bats to humans via the pangolins in the Wuhan market where live animals are sold. John Gage, Washington Examiner, "Trump talks with Xi Jinping about coronavirus as Chinese scientists track possible outbreak origin to pangolins," 7 Feb. 2020 President Donald Trump has referred to members of the group as animals. Dallas News, "MS-13 member involved in 9 attempted murders in Dallas area sentenced to life behind bars," 7 Feb. 2020 For instance, wild bats and rodents harbor numerous viruses that have the potential to infect humans and animals. Alan Rudolph, The Conversation, "Re-creating live-animal markets in the lab lets researchers see how pathogens like coronavirus jump species," 6 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective To determine the best trap for your offender, call your local animal wildlife officer or state wildlife agency. Charlyne Mattox, Country Living, "How to Get Rid of Snakes, From Copperhead to Garden," 17 Dec. 2019 In the first round of testing, results showed that 32 of 35 wells were contaminated with either human or animal waste, or both. Lee Bergquist, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Study ties well contamination in southwestern Wisconsin to human and livestock sources," 3 Dec. 2019 All were animal studies with a small sample size, and none were combined with a THC vaping fluid. Cosby Stone, The Conversation, "Vitamin E and vaping injuries: What’s safe in your diet is rarely safe in your lungs," 22 Nov. 2019 Guys, there are more than 5,000 people out there who actually consume human and animal blood. Leah Hall, Country Living, "Fact or Fiction: Are Vampires Real?," 14 Aug. 2019 An East Boston apartment was deemed a public health hazard after trash, human and animal waste, and extreme clutter were found there Tuesday, authorities said. Danny Mcdonald, BostonGlobe.com, "East Boston building evacuated after buckets of human waste found," 16 July 2019 But critics don't think so -- arguing that force-feeding anything is animal cruelty and that the practice causes liver damage. Leah Asmelash, CNN, "New York City will ban restaurants and grocery stores from selling foie gras," 30 Oct. 2019 Our once solid, unpredictable, sensing, spectacularly messy and animal bodies submit — imperfectly, but also intensively — to the abstracting conditions of medicine. Longreads, "Communiqué from an Exurban Satellite Clinic of a Cancer Pavilion Named after a Financier," 17 Sep. 2019 In fact, as the somatic parts of both plants and animals grow, their cells accumulate about one mutation per million bases per cell division, so plant germ cells should have far more mutations than animal germ cells. Elizabeth Pennisi, Science | AAAS, "Meet the monkeyflower, a weed that may hold the key to zebra stripes and other biological mysteries," 29 Aug. 2019

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

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Animal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/animal. Accessed 17 Feb. 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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