an·​i·​mus ˈa-nə-məs How to pronounce animus (audio)
: a usually prejudiced and often spiteful or malevolent ill will
harbored an animus toward them
… the sixties mentality, with its strong animus against what it defines as "elitism" …Daniel J. Singal
: basic attitude or governing spirit : disposition, intention
: an inner masculine part of the female personality in the analytical psychology of Carl Gustav Jung compare anima

Did you know?

Animus has long referred to the rational or animating components of a person's psyche (it derives from Latin animus, which can mean "spirit," "mind," "courage," or "anger"). Since a key animating component of personality can be temper, the word came to mean animosity, especially ill will that is driven by strong prejudice. The term is also used in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung in reference to an inner masculine part of the female personality. The English animus is closely related to words such as animosity, magnanimous, and unanimous, but it is not as closely related to other similar-looking terms such as animal and animate. Those latter terms derive from the Latin anima, a distinct term that means "soul" or "breath" and that suggests someone's physical vitality or life force—the breath of life.

Choose the Right Synonym for animus

enmity, hostility, antipathy, antagonism, animosity, rancor, animus mean deep-seated dislike or ill will.

enmity suggests positive hatred which may be open or concealed.

an unspoken enmity

hostility suggests an enmity showing itself in attacks or aggression.

hostility between the two nations

antipathy and antagonism imply a natural or logical basis for one's hatred or dislike, antipathy suggesting repugnance, a desire to avoid or reject, and antagonism suggesting a clash of temperaments leading readily to hostility.

a natural antipathy for self-seekers
antagonism between the brothers

animosity suggests intense ill will and vindictiveness that threaten to kindle hostility.

animosity that led to revenge

rancor is especially applied to bitter brooding over a wrong.

rancor filled every line of his letters

animus adds to animosity the implication of strong prejudice.

objections devoid of personal animus

Examples of animus in a Sentence

She felt an animus against them. feeling no animus toward those who had wronged her
Recent Examples on the Web This one happens to run on digital blood spatter, bootleg CGI and japes about genitalia, but the animus behind these films is nostalgia for the kind of pounding marquee movies of the 1980s and ‘90s, when the men were muscly and the misogyny was cool with everyone. Katie Walsh, Los Angeles Times, 21 Sep. 2023 Trump maintains his innocence and has accused prosecutors from every office pursuing him of doing so out of political animus. Graham Kates, CBS News, 30 Aug. 2023 Families like the Wongs, who ran a laundry shop, were often targets of racial animus in Los Angeles. Mayukh Sen, The New Yorker, 30 Aug. 2023 To emphasize this animus, last month Universal Studios cut away the sidewalk shade trees. Todd Robinson, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Aug. 2023 With the twin threats of North Korea and China uniting them, the leaders of Japan and South Korea put aside a history of animus and joined President Biden on Friday at Camp David for a rare three-way summit to plan a joint, long-term defense strategy. Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, 18 Aug. 2023 To be clear, this whole situation stems from the animus of just two individuals. William Earl, Variety, 4 Aug. 2023 Trump has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, and has accused Willis of pursuing the case out of political animus. Graham Kates, CBS News, 14 Aug. 2023 But the episode has spurred a wave of negative headlines about the Alabama city, as the fight largely broke down along racial lines in a city with a fraught history of racial animus. David Mark, Washington Examiner, 10 Aug. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'animus.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Latin, spirit, mind, courage, anger

First Known Use

1795, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of animus was in 1795


Dictionary Entries Near animus

Cite this Entry

“Animus.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Oct. 2023.

Medical Definition


an·​i·​mus ˈan-ə-məs How to pronounce animus (audio)
: an inner masculine part of the female personality in the analytical psychology of C. G. Jung compare anima sense 1

Legal Definition


an·​i·​mus ˈa-nə-məs How to pronounce animus (audio)
: intent
discriminatory animus
compare mens rea

Latin, mind, soul

More from Merriam-Webster on animus

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

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