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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ They still retain large elements of animism, a belief which assigns a divine spark or spirit to every material thing.
▪ This is the basis of animism, and animism is the basis of religion.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Animism \An"i*mism\, n. [Cf. F. animisme, fr. L. anima soul. See Animate.]

  1. The doctrine, taught by Stahl, that the soul is the proper principle of life and development in the body.

  2. The belief that inanimate objects and the phenomena of nature are endowed with personal life or a living soul; also, in an extended sense, the belief in the existence of soul or spirit apart from matter.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1866, reintroduced by English anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Taylor (1832-1917), who defined it (1871) as the "theory of the universal animation of nature," from Latin anima "life, breath, soul" (see animus) + -ism.\n

\nEarlier sense was of "doctrine that animal life is produced by an immaterial soul" (1832), from German Animismus, coined c.1720 by physicist/chemist Georg Ernst Stahl (1660-1734) based on the concept of the anima mundi. Animist is attested from 1819, in Stahl's sense; animisic is first recorded 1871.


n. 1 A belief that spirits inhabit some or all classes of natural objects or phenomena. 2 A belief that an immaterial force animates the universe. 3 (context dated English) A doctrine that animal life is produced by an immaterial spirit.


n. the doctrine that all natural objects and the universe itself have souls; "animism is common among primitive peoples"


Animism (from Latin , " breath, spirit, life") is the worldview that non-human entities—such as animals, plants, and inanimate objects—possess a spiritual essence.

Animism is used in the anthropology of religion as a term for the belief system of some indigenous tribal peoples, especially prior to the development of organized religion. Although each culture has its own different mythologies and rituals, "animism" is said to describe the most common, foundational thread of indigenous peoples' "spiritual" or "supernatural" perspectives. The Animistic perspective is so fundamental, mundane, everyday, and taken-for-granted that most animistic indigenous people do not even have a word in their languages that corresponds to "animism" (or even "religion"); the term is an anthropological construct.

Largely due to such ethnolinguistic and cultural discrepancies, opinion has differed on whether animism refers to a broad religious belief or to a full-fledged religion in its own right. The currently accepted definition of animism was only developed in the late 19th century by Sir Edward Tylor, who created it as "one of anthropology's earliest concepts, if not the first".

Animism encompasses the beliefs that there is no separation between the spiritual and physical (or material) world, and that souls or spirits exist, not only in humans, but also in some other animals, plants, rocks, geographic features such as mountains or rivers, or other entities of the natural environment, including thunder, wind, and shadows. Animism thus rejects Cartesian dualism. Animism may further attribute souls to abstract concepts such as words, true names, or metaphors in mythology. Some members of the non-tribal world also consider themselves animists (such as author Daniel Quinn, sculptor Lawson Oyekan, and many contemporary Pagans).

Animism (Forrest Fang album)

Animism is the eleventh album by Forrest Fang, released on May 11, 2012 through Projekt Records.

Animism (Tanya Tagaq album)

Animism is the third studio album by Canadian Inuk musician Tanya Tagaq, released May 27, 2014 on Six Shooter Records. The album won the 2014 Polaris Music Prize on September 22, 2014, and the Juno Award for Aboriginal Album of the Year at the Juno Awards of 2015. It was also a shortlisted nominee for the Juno Award for Alternative Album of the Year, but did not win.

Tagaq has described the album as more consciously political than her earlier work. The political themes culminate in the album's final track, "Fracking", in which Tagaq vocalizes the Earth's cries of pain as it is subjected to hydraulic fracturing.

The album was produced by Jesse Zubot, and features musical contributions from percussionist Jean Martin and opera singer Anna Pardo Canedo. In addition to the album's Juno Award nominations, Zubot was a nominee for Producer of the Year for the album tracks "Caribou" and "Uja".

" Caribou" is a cover of a song by noted American alternative rock band Pixies.

Animism (disambiguation)

Animism is the worldview that non-human entities possess a spiritual essence.

Animism may also refer to:

Animism (TV series)

Animism is a Canadian animated television series that airs on the Aboriginal Peoples Television Network's APTN Kids block. Animated for APTN by Zeroes 2 Heroes, the series mixes First Nations mythology with urban fantasy concepts.

Development began in 2010. An alternate reality game titled Animism: The Sacred Sites debuted that year. The six-episode first season, Animism: The Gods' Lake, aired in 2013. A second season, Animism: Titan Falls, is in development.

Usage examples of "animism".

To the extent that either attempts to escape the flatland interlocking order at all, they do so by regression to agrarian alchemy, magico-mythic animism, astrology, horticultural planting mythology, or foraging human-nature indissociationall of which is based, of course, on the new physics.

Even as it is not the specialist in biology that still maintains the Darwinian theory of Natural Selection, but the non-professional and the amateur, even so the specialist acquainted with the original sources, and the explorer, possessing first hand knowledge, asserts a decline, through history, from purer to less spiritual faiths, while the bias of the evolutionist, who has no first hand knowledge of the sources constrains him to begin his scheme of religion with animism and fetish-worship.

To the extent that either attempts to escape the flatland interlocking order at all, they do so by regression to agrarian alchemy, magico-mythic animism, astrology, horticultural planting mythology, or foraging human-nature indissociationall of which is based, of course, on the new physics.

Roszak wants to take, from primals and from infants, the parts of animism that he likes and then jettison the rest (which he concedes are merely "superstitious").

Like communalism and animism, non-nuclear family structures provide a poor defense against the corrosive effects of cities, where African culture is being redefined as deforestation tied to overpopulation drives peasants out of the countryside.

Animism and tribal pantheons are inadequate to explain a varied and complex world.

Necromancy, geomancy, ritual sacrifice, divination by means of the study of entrails, omens, crystals, dreams, or pools of ink, animism, fetishism, social Darwinism, psychohistory, continuous creation, Lamarckian genetics, psionics, and more.

The staying power of animism, in competition with these two major world religions, might be traced to the survival of large tracts of forest here into the twentieth century.