[ an-uh-muhl ]
See synonyms for animal on
  1. any member of the kingdom Animalia, comprising multicellular organisms that have a well-defined shape and usually limited growth, can move voluntarily, actively acquire food and digest it internally, and have sensory and nervous systems that allow them to respond rapidly to stimuli: some classification schemes also include protozoa and certain other single-celled eukaryotes that have motility and animallike nutritional modes.

  2. any such living thing other than a human being.

  1. a mammal, as opposed to a fish, bird, etc.

  2. the physical, sensual, or carnal nature of human beings; animality: the animal in every person.

  3. an inhuman person; brutish or beastlike person: She married an animal.

  4. thing: A perfect job? Is there any such animal?

  1. of, relating to, or derived from animals: animal instincts; animal fats.

  2. pertaining to the physical, sensual, or carnal nature of humans, rather than their spiritual or intellectual nature: animal needs.

Origin of animal

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English (from Old French ), from Latin, noun derivative (with loss of final vowel and shortening of ā) of animāle, neuter of animālis “living, animate,” equivalent to anim(a) “air, breath” + -ālis; English adjective also directly from Latin animālis; see -al1;

synonym study For animal

2. Animal, beast, brute refer to sentient creatures as distinct from minerals and plants; figuratively, they usually connote qualities and characteristics below the human level. Animal is the general word; figuratively, it applies merely to the body or to animal-like characteristics: An athlete is a magnificent animal. Beast refers to four-footed animals; figuratively, it suggests a base, sensual nature: A glutton is a beast. Brute implies absence of ability to reason; figuratively, it connotes savagery as well: a drunken brute. 8. See carnal.

Other words for animal

Other words from animal

  • an·i·mal·ic [an-uh-mal-ik], /ˌæn əˈmæl ɪk/, an·i·ma·li·an [an-uh-mey-lee-uhn, -meyl-yuhn], /ˌæn əˈmeɪ li ən, -ˈmeɪl yən/, adjective
  • non·an·i·mal, noun, adjective
  • sem·i·an·i·mal, noun, adjective
  • su·per·an·i·mal, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use animal in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for animal


/ (ˈænɪməl) /

  1. zoology any living organism characterized by voluntary movement, the possession of cells with noncellulose cell walls and specialized sense organs enabling rapid response to stimuli, and the ingestion of complex organic substances such as plants and other animals: Related prefix: zoo-

  2. any mammal, esp any mammal except man

  1. a brutish person

  2. facetious a person or thing (esp in the phrase no such animal)

  3. Australian informal a very dirty car

  1. of, relating to, or derived from animals: animal products; an animal characteristic

  2. of or relating to the physical needs or desires; carnal; sensual

Origin of animal

C14: from Latin animal (n), from animālis (adj) living, breathing; see anima

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Scientific definitions for animal


[ ănə-məl ]

  1. Any of the multicellular organisms belonging to the kingdom Animalia. All animals are eukaryotes, with each of their cells having a nucleus containing DNA. Most animals develop from a blastula and have a digestive tract, nervous system, the ability to move voluntarily, and specialized sensory organs for recognizing and responding to stimuli in the environment. Animals are heterotrophs, feeding on plants, other animals, or organic matter. The first animals probably evolved from protists and appeared during the Precambrian Era.

The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.