• animus •
Pronunciation: æ-nê-mês • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. Motivation, intention, disposition to do something. 2. A sense of ill-will, resentment, animosity; spiteful ill will. 3. In Jungian psychology, the masculine side of a person's personality (compare anima, the feminine side).
Notes: Today's Good Word has a synonym, animosity, which was derived from a now defunct adjective, animous. This leaves today's word a lexical orphan with a missing link to its family. Remember, animus is spelled without an O, for that would make it an obsolete adjective. It is a noun.
In Play: We should never abandon a good word or even part of one. That might be the fate of the first meaning of today's Good Word if we don't take appropriate steps: "There is no animus for Wall Street to fix its problems so long as the banks and investment firms know the federal government will rescue them no matter how badly they are mismanaged." Let's not let this word become just another word for anger: "June McBride held no animus against Phil Anders for walking out on her."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a perfect copy of Latin animus "rational soul, mind, life, the will". This is where the sense of "intention, disposition" originated. Its feminine correlate, anima, originally meant "a breeze, breath, spirit, feeling". Both these words derive from the PIE root ane- "to blow, to breathe", from which Greek anemos "wind" derived. Our ancient ancestors often associated the soul with breath since, in cold weather, breath takes on a misty, ghostly shapelessness remindful of a soul. They also credited animals with souls, as you can see. (We can assure Harriet Belkin we have no animus toward her; quite the contrary, we are in her debt for suggesting today's soulful Good Word.)
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