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 So babies are born ready to see shapes as human anatomy, and quickly see even inanimate objects as having social relationships. Michaela Porubanova, The Conversation, "Humanizing the coronavirus as an invisible enemy is human nature," 22 May 2020 Greg Dear Greg: Here's to Muffin, and all the other stuffed or inanimate friends who help their keepers to cope with life's challenges. Amy Dickinson, oregonlive, "Ask Amy: Readers share stories of stuffed toys = best friends," 16 Mar. 2020 Their stout silhouettes, familiar from Anderson’s Midwestern childhood, became a point of departure for him, too, as did the Bechers’ ability to imbue inanimate objects with personality. Julia Felsenthal, New York Times, "The Designer Making Surprisingly Humanoid Sculptural Ceramics," 3 Mar. 2020 Health authorities would later assure people the virus couldn’t be spread through inanimate objects and the post office reopened that day. Alistair Macdonald, WSJ, "Coronavirus Concerns Spread Faster and Further Than Pathogen," 10 Feb. 2020 Of course, as inanimate objects, the dunes are not speaking; the new research, published in the journal , focuses on how the mounds behave as they get whipped about by wind and water flow. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Sand Dunes ‘Communicate’ as They Migrate," 5 Feb. 2020 Infusing building materials with living microorganisms has already lent inanimate objects new powers. Sophie Bushwick, Scientific American, "Bacteria-Filled Bricks Build Themselves," 15 Jan. 2020 Instead, Gonzalez hones in on mostly inanimate objects—mountains of handwritten cards, drawings, paper cranes and other tiny mementos left behind and archived after some of the deadliest school massacres in the nation’s history. Time, "TIME's 30 Best Photobooks of 2019," 21 Dec. 2019 For inanimate objects, books have a tendency to eat a lot. Trevor Fraser,, "Free reads for book lovers at Orlando Book Hoarder Meetup," 12 Nov. 2019

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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for inanimate

Last Updated

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Inanimate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for inanimate


How to pronounce inanimate (audio)

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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