(1)   Of the nature of or characteristic of or derived from an animal or animals
"The animal kingdom"
"Animal instincts"
"Animal fats"


(2)   A living organism characterized by voluntary movement

Etymology 1

From animal from animal from animal, a nominal use of an adjective from animale, neuter of animalis adj, from anima ‘breath, spirit’. Displaced native deor, der "animal" (from dēor "animal"), reother "animal, neat" (from hrīþer, hrȳþer "neat, ox").


  1. In scientific usage, a multicellular organism that is usually mobile, whose cells are not encased in a rigid cell wall (distinguishing it from plants and fungi) and which derives energy solely from the consumption of other organisms (distinguishing it from plants).
    A cat is an animal, not a plant.
    Humans are also animals, under the scientific definition, as we are not plants.
  2. In non-scientific usage, any member of the kingdom Animalia other than a human being.
  3. In non-scientific usage, any land-living vertebrate (i.e. not birds, fishes, insects etc)
  4. A person who behaves wildly.
    My students are animals.

Etymology 2

From Latin animalis, from either anima ‘breath, spirit’ or animus. Originally distinct from the noun, it became associated with attributive use of the noun and is now indistinguishable from it.


  1. Of or relating to animals.
    animal instincts
  2. Raw, base, unhindered by social codes.
    animal passions
  3. Pertaining to the spirit or soul; relating to sensation or innervation.
    • 2003: To explain what activated the flesh, ‘animal spirits’ were posited, superfine fluids which shuttled between the mind and the vitals, conveying messages and motion. — Roy Porter, Flesh in the Age of Reason (Penguin 2004, p. 47)
  4. Excellent.