animal spirits

plural noun

Definition of animal spirits 

1 sometimes animal spirit, obsolete : the nervous energy that is the source of physical sensation and movement

2 : vivacity arising from physical health and energy

3 in Keynesian economic theory : emotional feelings and desires (such as an optimistic willingness to take positive action) that influence the economic behavior of consumers and investors If you ask how much consumers will consume and investors invest over the next few months, the answer is determined largely by feelings—what John Maynard Keynes called "animal spirits." If frightened people decide not to spend, their nervousness can translate into a depressed economy.— Paul Krugman

Examples of animal spirits in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Growth and animal spirits have revived with Mr. Trump’s policy mix of tax reform and deregulation. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Trump Flunks Fed Politics," 24 Oct. 2018 More people sitting around watching Netflix may help rekindle some animal spirits in the stock market. Peter Eavis, The Seattle Times, "Netflix keeps adding subscribers, and market investors could profit," 16 Oct. 2018 The labor shortage is one reason Mr. Abe’s program of economic reform hasn’t revived animal spirits, with GDP contracting 0.2% in the first quarter. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Japan Wants Guest Workers," 20 June 2018 The animal spirits are returning to the leveraged-buyout business, and that’s helping fuel a historic rise in merger activity. Miriam Gottfried, WSJ, "LBO Volume Surges as KKR, Others Put $1 Trillion Cash Pile to Work," 13 June 2018 Officials blamed a lack of private-sector animal spirits for the bidding no-show. The Economist, "Plans to privatise India’s flag-carrier have run into turbulence," 9 June 2018 Lawrence seemed to have thrived on the animal spirit. Ankita Chakraborty, Longreads, "A Crocodile In Paris: The Queer Classics of Qiu Miaojin," 8 June 2018 The Trump Administration’s deregulation and tax reform have unleashed animal spirits, which has increased stock values and capital gains. Editorial Board, WSJ, "Democrats Cash In on Tax Reform," 25 May 2018 This is probably thanks, in part, to the stiffening effect of Republican policy on animal spirits. The Economist, "Business in the Republicans’ America is flourishing, but also changing," 24 May 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of animal spirits

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about animal spirits

Share animal spirits

Statistics for animal spirits

Last Updated

18 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for animal spirits

The first known use of animal spirits was in the 15th century

See more words from the same century

Comments on animal spirits

What made you want to look up animal spirits? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!