early 14c. (but rare before c.1600, and not in KJV, 1611), "any living creature" (including humans), from Latin animale "living being, being which breathes," neuter of animalis "animate, living; of the air," from anima "breath, soul; a current of air" (see animus, and cf. deer). Drove out the older beast in common usage. Used of brutish humans from 1580s.