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 animal (audio) \ adjective

Adjective

animally \ ˈa-​nə-​mə-​lē How to pronounce animal (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 Stewart offered to buy her a carrier more suitable for pets than a handbag, and to help her get approval to use her dog as a therapy animal. Lindsey Tanner, Anchorage Daily News, "Loneliness is rampant. A simple call, or hug, may be a cure," 15 Apr. 2021 Convincing a 14-foot-tall animal to get on a boat is no small feat, however. Theresa Machemer, Smithsonian Magazine, "Last Two Giraffes Rescued From a Disappearing Island in Kenya," 15 Apr. 2021 Logan wore a police cap and hugged a stuffed animal as Biden and congressional leaders eulogized his father and said prayers for his family. Mary Clare Jalonick And Kevin Freking, Star Tribune, "Biden eulogizes slain officer as Capitol Police mourn again," 13 Apr. 2021 These places are punctuated with puzzles that see No Man doing such things as trading riffs with a musician, planting seeds in a garden and bearing witness to the killing of a mythological animal whose face becomes that of a constellation. Washington Post, "’Genesis Noir’: A stunning game about love, murder, joy and the Big Bang," 12 Apr. 2021 The monarch butterfly is an example of a greatest-needs animal whose numbers continue to dwindle to what many would call a crisis level but are without federal or Wisconsin state protections. Jennifer Rude Klett, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What you can do in your yard to help Wisconsin's endangered species," 8 Apr. 2021 One other thing: The playoffs is a whole other animal from the regular season. Larry Starks, USA TODAY, "Roundtable: Lakers face daunting playoff scenario; are Nets a lock for the Finals?," 7 Apr. 2021 Neither of these guys have pitched above Double-A, so to go into Fenway and Yankee Stadium — spring training is one thing, but the [regular] season in Major League Baseball is a completely different animal. Nathan Ruiz, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles Rule 5 pick Mac Sceroler shines in major league debut: ‘I can compete here’," 6 Apr. 2021 Bernie, a Labrador retriever, trained for two years at Guiding Eyes for the Blind to be a service animal. Carolyn Said, San Francisco Chronicle, "Uber drivers refused rides to this blind woman and her guide dog. Now the company must pay up," 1 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Jablonka thinks that most animal developmental biologists won’t be surprised by the outcome of experiments like this — but will kick themselves for not having looked for it. Quanta Magazine, "Cells Form Into ‘Xenobots’ On Their Own," 31 Mar. 2021 However, some scientists argue that the water would quickly be diluted into the vastness of the ocean and that tritium has a low risk to human and animal health. Mica Soellner, Washington Examiner, "Japan might release radioactive water into ocean as part of Fukushima cleanup," 13 Mar. 2021 While the rich might pay to petition the oracle of Apollo at Delphi, most people turned to simpler techniques to seek guidance from the gods, such as throwing dice made of animal knuckle bones. Joshua P. Nudell, The Conversation, "An ancient Greek approach to risk and the lessons it can offer the modern world," 22 Feb. 2021 Interestingly, Norway has two non-animal traditions that are popular for the holiday: skiing and reading true crime novels. Samantha Lawyer, Woman's Day, "The History of the Easter Bunny is Almost as Cute as Spring's Furry Mascot," 26 Feb. 2021 As a child, he was raised with traditional beliefs about male, female and animal deities who had created the world and given power and good fortune to the Apache people. Smithsonian Magazine, "The Case of the Autographed Corpse," 19 Nov. 2020 Eat Just already produces a range of non-animal products, including Just Egg, made with mung beans, and a vegan mayonnaise. Amy Woodyatt And Danielle Wiener-bronner, CNN, "Singapore becomes first country to approve lab-grown meat," 2 Dec. 2020 Something of a wonder crop, gram for gram, kelp and other seaweeds have as much protein as beef and are one of few non-animal sources of Vitamin B12 (which helps to make DNA and keep the body's nerve and blood cells healthy). Ed Scott-clarke And Tom Page, CNN, "This underwater farmer wants us to eat more seaweed," 20 Nov. 2020 No one is suggesting humans should die instead—there's a non-animal version of the same substance that’s identical and totally appropriate for this usage. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "How the Coronavirus Vaccine Could Kill Half a Million Sharks," 13 Oct. 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

22 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Animal.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/animal. Accessed 22 Apr. 2021.

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More Definitions for animal

animal

noun

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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