Linguistics. belonging to a syntactic category or having a semantic feature that is characteristic of words denoting objects, concepts, and beings regarded as lacking perception and volition (opposed to animate).
early 15c., from Late Latin inanimatus "lifeless," from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + animatus (see animation). The same word in 17c. also was a verb meaning "to infuse with life," from the other in- (see in- (2)).