in·​an·​i·​mate | \(ˌ)i-ˈna-nə-mət \

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

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 But Cappy's most enduring feature is the ability to take over control of certain enemies, onlookers, and even previously inanimate objects, which sport Mario's trademark cap and mustache to indicate they've been temporarily possessed. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Super Mario Odyssey review: Mario’s densest, deepest adventure yet," 26 Oct. 2017 What chemical process were involved to transform inanimate substances into living organisms? Jay Bennett, Popular Mechanics, "New Study Suggests Life Started on Earth Much Earlier Than Thought," 2 Oct. 2017 Libra is represented by the scales, the only inanimate object of the zodiac. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What This Week's Horoscope Means for You," 2 Oct. 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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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 \

Kids Definition of inanimate

: not living Stones are inanimate objects.


in·​an·​i·​mate | \(ˈ)in-ˈan-ə-mət \

Medical Definition of inanimate 

: not animate:

a : not endowed with life or spirit

b : lacking consciousness or power of motion

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Comments on inanimate

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


to make faulty or ineffective

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