in·​an·​i·​mate | \ (ˌ)i-ˈna-nə-mət How to pronounce inanimate (audio) \

Definition of inanimate

1 : not animate:
a : not endowed with life or spirit an inanimate object
b : lacking consciousness or power of motion an inanimate body
2 : not animated or lively : dull

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Other Words from inanimate

inanimately adverb
inanimateness noun

Did You Know?

The couch you sit on while you watch TV is an inanimate object, as is your footrest, your bag of snacks, and your remote control. Spend too much time on that couch and you risk becoming a couch potato. (A potato is an inanimate object.)

Examples of inanimate in a Sentence

“pathetic fallacy” is the literary term for the ascription of human feelings or motives to inanimate natural elements

Recent Examples on the Web

Dolls, afterall, are inanimate objects that have no capacity to fight for themselves or speak their mind. Gianluca Russo, Teen Vogue, ""Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists" Season One Successfully Smashed the Dollhouse of the Original Series and Empowered Its Leading Women," 22 May 2019 Because Old Glory seemed horrified when President Trump enveloped her in an unreciprocated bear hug at the CPAC conference last Sunday—proving that the president not only grabs women by their private parts, but inanimate objects as well. Lynn Yaeger, Vogue, "The Week in Washington: Can a Flagpole File a Harassment Lawsuit?," 10 Mar. 2019 But unlike leases for inanimate objects, some of the terms included with pet leases can have troubling consequences. Nancy Coleman, WSJ, "Just Bought a New Puppy? It Might Be a Rental," 19 July 2018 Not even inanimate objects can bear to watch Chatwood pitch. Steve Rosenbloom,, "Cubs had better find a regular spot in the rotation for Mike Montgomery," 20 June 2018 However, this trend of bringing inanimate objects as dates is becoming a motif for the young star. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "Jaden Smith Brought Another Non-Human Date to the Met Gala," 7 May 2018 The clouds are meant to be a bridge between the extremely rich but inanimate matter of the museum and the ever evolving living elements. Steve Johnson,, "Hanging 'plant clouds,' pterosaurs to join crowd in Field Museum's Stanley Field Hall makeover," 10 Jan. 2018 Similarly, try mis-tagging photos of friends—or use photos of celebrities, cartoons, or inanimate objects—to confuse Facebook’s facial recognition and computer vision algorithms. Lil Miss Hot Mess, WIRED, "A Drag Queen’s Guide to Protecting Your Privacy on Facebook By Breaking the Rules," 3 Apr. 2018 Sometimes, inanimate objects can be there for us in a way that people can’t. Lindsey Lanquist, SELF, "7 Women Share Photos of the Surprising Things That Helped Them Get Over a Breakup," 18 Dec. 2017

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for inanimate

Middle English, from Late Latin inanimatus, from Latin in- + animatus, past participle of animare to animate

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Statistics for inanimate

Last Updated

1 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for inanimate

The first known use of inanimate was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for inanimate



English Language Learners Definition of inanimate

: not living : not capable of life


in·​an·​i·​mate | \ i-ˈna-nə-mət How to pronounce inanimate (audio) \

Kids Definition of inanimate

: not living Stones are inanimate objects.


in·​an·​i·​mate | \ (ˈ)in-ˈan-ə-mət How to pronounce inanimate (audio) \

Medical Definition of inanimate

: not animate:
a : not endowed with life or spirit
b : lacking consciousness or power of motion

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