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

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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 Surging animal spirits accompanied a rebound in business investment across the rich world. The Economist, "World economic growth is slowing. Don’t worry—yet," 19 May 2018 Postcrisis Shadow The shock of the financial crisis had a lingering impact on animal spirits. Tom Fairless, WSJ, "The Riddle of the Eurozone’s Missing Inflation," 7 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.

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First Known Use of animal spirits

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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