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

Example Sentences

She felt an animus against them. feeling no animus toward those who had wronged her
Recent Examples on the Web The interesting thing is, Meghan only relatively recently had been introduced to harsh realities of racial animus. Sophia A. Nelson, CNN, 22 Feb. 2023 Jerry Jones, whose skin is even thicker than his skull, surely must realize the level of animus around his beloved Cowboys has risen to near-record levels, especially for a team that’s won 25 games over the last two seasons. Dallas News, 26 Jan. 2023 No one has been happier about the developments than Mr. Trump, who predictably has used them to turn attention away from his own mishandling of documents and accuse Democrats and the government of targeting him out of partisan animus. Peter Baker, New York Times, 24 Jan. 2023 Authorities, citing evidence introduced at the trial, said Keaton had a personal animus toward the victim from a previous incident. Staff, Hartford Courant, 16 Dec. 2022 Prosecutors made their own pretrial motion to prevent Mosby’s lawyers from accusing them of racial and personal animus against the state’s attorney. Lee O. Sanderlin, Baltimore Sun, 7 Sep. 2022 Trump coddled avowed white supremacists during his Presidency, and his open stoking of racial animus unshackled the Republican Party from norms long held in mainstream politics. Keeanga-yamahtta Taylor, The New Yorker, 15 May 2022 The animus between Wheeler, who said Kafoury wouldn’t compromise, and Kafoury, who accused him of being ineffective, continued to the end of her tenure. oregonlive, 13 Jan. 2023 Still, most contemporary peers and fans agree that the animus mostly had to do with clashing egos. Juan J. Arroyo, Rolling Stone, 29 Dec. 2022 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 30 Mar. 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!

A Good Old-Fashioned Quiz

How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?