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

With market volatility rising as central banks tighten policy, and animal spirits roaring in corporate boardrooms, this patient strategy is now paying off. Aaron Back, WSJ, "Blankfein’s Vindication and His Uncertain Legacy," 17 July 2018 Taming rampant animal spirits in mainland markets is far more difficult. Jacky Wong, WSJ, "Irrational Exuberance Endangers China’s Nasdaq," 3 Apr. 2019 Far more than a provocateur and party girl, Babitz was a medium for the animal spirit of 1960s and ‘70s Hollywood. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Most Anticipated Books of 2019: 19 Picks You Should Have on Your Reading List," 1 Jan. 2019 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

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.

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First Known Use of animal spirits

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Last Updated

20 May 2019

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

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showing courage and determination

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