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 Higher taxes and tougher regulation are a combination more likely to rein in rather than unleash animal spirits. Andrew Stuttaford, National Review, "Inflation, You Say?," 24 Feb. 2021 Ma explains that the dance is about communing with ancient animal spirits. Jeremy Eichler, BostonGlobe.com, "Music’s first responder: How Yo-Yo Ma answered the pandemic’s call and consoled a reeling nation," 27 Jan. 2021 But some economists argue Trump’s free-enterprise approach will more effectively unleash business owners’ animal spirits. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Trump or Biden: Who would boost growth, restore jobs faster? Here’s an Election Day guide on the economy," 3 Nov. 2020 But some economists argue Trump’s free-enterprise approach will more effectively unleash business owners’ animal spirits. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Trump or Biden: Who would boost growth, restore jobs faster? Here’s an Election Day guide on the economy," 3 Nov. 2020 But some economists argue Trump’s free-enterprise approach will more effectively unleash business owners’ animal spirits. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Trump or Biden: Who would boost growth, restore jobs faster? Here’s an Election Day guide on the economy," 3 Nov. 2020 But some economists argue Trump’s free-enterprise approach will more effectively unleash business owners’ animal spirits. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Trump or Biden: Who would boost growth, restore jobs faster? Here’s an Election Day guide on the economy," 3 Nov. 2020 But some economists argue Trump’s free-enterprise approach will more effectively unleash business owners’ animal spirits. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Trump or Biden: Who would boost growth, restore jobs faster? Here’s an Election Day guide on the economy," 3 Nov. 2020 But the animal spirits were up in markets and that message was ignored. Brandon Kochkodin, Bloomberg.com, "Uninformed Gamblers Fooled Global Markets With Big Bets on Trump," 7 Nov. 2020

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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Last Updated

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Animal spirits.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/animal%20spirits. Accessed 9 Mar. 2021.

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