the belief that natural objects, natural phenomena, and the universe itself possess souls.
the belief that natural objects have souls that may exist apart from their material bodies.
the doctrine that the soul is the principle of life and health.
belief in spiritual beings or agencies.

1825–35; < Latin anim(a) (see anima) + -ism

animist, adjective
animistic, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
animism (ˈænɪˌmɪzəm)
1.  the belief that natural objects, phenomena, and the universe itself have desires and intentions
2.  (in the philosophies of Plato and Pythagoras) the hypothesis that there is an immaterial force that animates the universe
[C19: from Latin anima vital breath, spirit]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

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.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary
animism [(an-uh-miz-uhm)]

The belief that natural objects such as rivers and rocks possess a soul or spirit. Anima is the Latin word for “soul” or “spirit.” (See voodoo.)

animism [(an-uh-miz-uhm)]

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 also fetish and totemism.)

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Example sentences for animistic
They were animistic and shamanic in their religious practices.
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