1866, reintroduced by Eng. anthropologist Sir Edward Burnett Taylor (18321917), who defined it (1871) as the "theory of the universal animation of nature," from L. anima "life, breath, soul." Earlier sense was of "doctrine that animal life is produced by an immaterial soul" (1832), from Ger. Animismus, coined c.1720 by physicist/chemist Georg Ernst Stahl (1660-1734) based on the concept of the anima mundi (q.v.). Animist is attested from 1819; animisic is first recorded 1871.
The belief that natural objects such as rivers and rocks possess a soul or spirit. Anima is the Latin word for “soul” or “spirit.” (Seevoodoo.)
The belief, common among so-called primitive people, that objects and natural phenomena, such as rivers, rocks, and wind, are alive and have feelings and intentions. Animistic beliefs form the basis of many cults. (See alsofetishandtotemism.)