A semantic category of noun, referring to a person, animal, or other creature. Contrast with inanimate noun.
Examples and Observations:
- "Bill Clinton loves to shop. On a March day in an elegant crafts store in Lima, the Peruvian capital, he hunted for presents for his wife and the women on his staff back home. He had given a speech at a university earlier and just came from a ceremony kicking off a program to help impoverished Peruvians. Now he was eyeing a necklace with a green stone amulet."
(Peter Baker, "It's Not About Bill." The New York Times Magazine, May 31, 2009)
- "Well, at the moment we've got a stockbroker, an overworked doctor, an underworked antiques shop owner, a disillusioned imports manager, and an even more disillusioned exports manager. Three sacked football managers, a fortune teller who's going to have a nervous breakdown next April, a schoolteacher who's desperate because he can't get a job, a schoolteacher who's even more desperate because he has got a job, an extremely shy vet, an overstressed car salesman and a pre-stressed concrete salesman."
(Leonard Rossiter as Reginald Perrin in The Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, 1976)
- "An examination of a wide range of languages suggests that there is a universal 'scale of animacy,' and that different languages draw their distinctions between animate and inanimate at different points on the scale. Underlying the scale is something like perceived potency, importance, or ability to act on other things, rather than a simple possession or non-possession of life. One version of the animacy hierarchy is as follows (in order of decreasing animacy):
1st person pronoun > 2nd person pronoun > 3rd person pronoun > Human proper noun > Human common noun > Animate noun > Inanimate noun"
(Alan Cruse, A Glossary of Semantics and Pragmatics. Edinburgh Univ. Press, 2006)