an·​i·​mism | \ ˈa-nə-ˌmi-zəm How to pronounce animism (audio) \

Definition of animism

1 : a doctrine that the vital principle of organic development is immaterial spirit
2 : attribution of conscious life to objects in and phenomena of nature or to inanimate objects
3 : belief in the existence of spirits separable from bodies

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from animism

animist \ ˈa-​nə-​mist How to pronounce animist (audio) \ noun
animistic \ ˌa-​nə-​ˈmi-​stik How to pronounce animistic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of animism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Crowds regularly throng the streets for one of the countless ceremonies that honor everything from trees and animals to birth and cremation—Balinese Hinduism is a mash-up of animism and Buddhism. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "Finding the Bali You Came For," 16 Nov. 2018 That sense of astonishment and animism persisted, helping to inspire hit games such as Donkey Kong, Super Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda. Catherine Cusick, Longreads, "Nintendo Can Keep a Secret," 22 June 2018 Abbas devoted the next few years to chronicling other religions and beliefs, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and animism, which is the belief that animals and plants have a spiritual essence. Matt Schudel, Washington Post, "Abbas, photojournalist of Iranian revolution, religious extremism, dies at 74," 28 Apr. 2018 This native animism will take on special importance in the case of Lenin. Olga Ingurazova, Smithsonian, "What Ever Happened to the Russian Revolution?," 29 Sep. 2017 Animism: The Gods’ Lake is an alternate reality game designed to explore aboriginal Canadian legends through a contemporary setting. Michael Andersen, WIRED, "New ARG Tasks You With Tracking Down Mythical Canadian Creatures," 2 Sep. 2010

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'animism.' 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 animism

1832, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for animism

German Animismus, from Latin anima soul

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about animism

Time Traveler for animism

Time Traveler

The first known use of animism was in 1832

See more words from the same year

Statistics for animism

Cite this Entry

“Animism.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for animism


How to pronounce animism (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of animism

: the belief that all plants, animals, and objects have spirits


an·​i·​mism | \ ˈan-ə-ˌmiz-əm How to pronounce animism (audio) \

Medical Definition of animism

1 : a doctrine that the vital principle of organic development is immaterial spirit
2 : attribution of conscious life to nature or natural objects

Other Words from animism

animist \ -​məst How to pronounce animist (audio) \ noun
animistic \ ˌan-​ə-​ˈmis-​tik How to pronounce animistic (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on animism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with animism Encyclopedia article about animism

Comments on animism

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


to state or do over again or repeatedly

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Semantic Drift Quiz

  • a twisty river
  • Which of the following was once a synonym for fun?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

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!