Definition of animism in English:



  • 1The attribution of a soul to plants, inanimate objects, and natural phenomena.

    • ‘Many different strands are woven together: elements of Christian iconography, a kind of coastal animism, surreal touches, a subdued eroticism.’
    • ‘Beninese animism, dance, and music have a long and rich history.’
    • ‘There's also a sense of animism, wherein a particular tree beside a stream might constitute a sacred place.’
    • ‘The expressive power of these works is dramatically amplified when considered in the context of their natural setting, and gives a face to the palpable, yet otherwise abstract animism that pervades the woods near his home.’
    • ‘And animism is one of the first things I think of when you describe this world where there are spirits in everything, and they're communicating with each other, and you have to go to an expert to mediate between you and them.’
    • ‘Islam has had a presence in this part of Africa since the 12 th century, but well into the 19th the traditional order was still based in animism.’
    • ‘Scientists eventually must deal with animism, it's now too important to be left to clerics and barristers.’
    • ‘Discarding animism is the first principle of science, which Monod calls the principle of objectivity.’
    • ‘It was also during this period that Theravada Buddhism gained strength in Ayutthaya, despite the deep roots of superstition and animism that still exist even today.’
    • ‘My understanding is that animism does not start from the premise that objects are inanimate.’
    • ‘More appropriately, in animism, these objects have never been ‘inanimate’ - they are always already ‘possessed’.’
  • 2The belief in a supernatural power that organizes and animates the material universe.

    • ‘Groups that descended into animism might never emerge from this ‘stone age’ of their development, because of the stifling effects of such things as taboos, and fear of evil spirits.’
    • ‘The Tukulor, one of Senegal's seven main ethnic groups, converted to Islam in the 11th century, but animism remained widespread until the middle of the 19th century.’
    • ‘Some, such as the Dais in Yunnan and the Zhuangs in the southwest, practice animism.’
    • ‘Other faiths include Roman Catholicism, Islam, animism, and Mahayana Buddhism - the type of Buddhism found most often in northern Asia.’
    • ‘Thai beliefs actually reflect a mix of Theravada Buddhism, Hinduism, and animism (spirit worship).’
    • ‘In more recent years, immigrants from Vietnam and Laos have brought folk religions such as animism into some U.S. communities.’
    • ‘The two main religions are Roman Catholicism and Voudou, or Voodoo, a mixture of African animism (belief in spirits and nature) and Christianity.’
    • ‘The nineteenth century notions of the evolution of religion from primitive animism to polytheism to monotheism have been falsified in tribe after tribe all over the world.’
    • ‘Hinduism's deepest inroads into Bali's animism came in the 16th century, after the armies of Islam had defeated the powerful Madjapahit Hindu dynasty.’
    • ‘Shamanism is the ancient religion of animism and nature-spirit worship and its origins in Korea are lost in antiquity.’
    • ‘Why did that other poster think that Monotheism, pantheism and animism are exclusive to each other?’
    • ‘Shamanism is an ancient religion that includes belief in animism, deities, and demons.’
    • ‘In a culture where witch trials occur and animism is alive and well, the Catholic Church nevertheless plays a major role in East Timorese society.’
    • ‘The proportion of Yorubas in Nigeria who are Muslim, Catholic, or Protestant or who subscribe to traditional beliefs or animism is not stated.’
    • ‘And even though nowhere in Buddhist scripture is there any mention of any kind of ghosts or animism, a strong belief in magic still remains.’
    • ‘Javanese identity has been built up over many centuries, and many religious and cultural traditions: ancient Malay animism, Indian Hinduism, Buddhism, and later, Islam, later still Christianity.’
    • ‘Their pre-Christian religion could be described as animism - the belief that everything is alive with natural or supernatural spirits.’
    • ‘These serials help perpetuate superstitions and blind beliefs in witchcraft and sorcery, in magic and animism.’
    • ‘Here, life is presented as purely immanent to itself and without a lapse into transcendent views of nature such as pantheism and animism.’
    • ‘One note of dissent came from a group of radical students at the Muslim university who wanted to ‘clean up’ the town's traditional tolerance of animism and other faiths.’


Mid 19th century: from Latin anima ‘life, soul’ + -ism.