from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A belief that all animate and inanimate objects are infused with a common life force.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The belief that everything is pervaded with a life-force giving each inanimate object a consciousness or personality, but not a soul as in animism.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That form of animism in which objects and phenomena are vaguely regarded as having personality and will-power, but not as possessing separable souls.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. the attribution of consciousness and personality to natural phenomena such as thunderstorms and earthquakes and to objects such as plants and stones


Originally coined by British anthropologist Robert Marett to refer to "a belief in a generalized, impersonal power over which people have some measure of control" (Wiktionary)


  • On theoretical grounds it is probable that animatism preceded animism; but savage thought is no more consistent than that of civilized man; and it may well be that animistic and panthelistic doctrines are held simultaneously by the same person.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Part 1, Slice 1

  • -- Animism may have arisen out of or simultaneously with animatism as a primitive explanation of many different phenomena; if animatism was originally applied to non-human or inanimate objects, animism may from the outset have been in vogue as a theory of the nature of man.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Part 1, Slice 1

  • But it is difficult in practice to distinguish the two phases of thought and no clear account of animatism can yet be given, largely on the ground that no people has yet been discovered which has not already developed to a greater or less extent an animistic philosophy.

    Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th Edition, Volume 2, Part 1, Slice 1


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