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Does animal here mean 4a person with a particular interest or aptitude in the Merriam-Webster?

Mr. Black recalled that Mr. DiCaprio dug up obscure film footage of a young Hoover giving speeches and read through transcripts of his Congressional testimony. “I had gone with a more redacted version of those, leaving out some of the more flowery, Hoovery language,” Mr. Black said. “Hoover liked to weave a lot of allusions of slimy, slippery animals into his speeches at that time. Leo loved it. He said, ‘Come on, we’ve got to use this stuff.’ ”

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closed as general reference by FumbleFingers, Daniel, Barrie England, simchona, RegDwigнt Dec 3 '11 at 1:47

This question is too basic; it can be definitively and permanently answered by a single link to a standard internet reference source designed specifically to find that type of information.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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I would imagine "animals" there simply means "animals". Even I'm too young to actually remember much of what Hoover used to say, but presumably he was in the habit of banging on about leeches, worms, and slugs, as well as bedbugs consorting with reds under the bed. –  FumbleFingers Dec 2 '11 at 19:49
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...I think there's no chance Hoover meant M-W's definition 4b, since it's hjighly unlikely that meaning had any currency during his lifetime. –  FumbleFingers Dec 2 '11 at 19:51
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Is there a motivation you have for the bland version 4a rather than the literal version that Hoover used metaphorically? –  Mitch Dec 2 '11 at 20:33
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Yep. I have. As to a lot of "bland version" about you. What would you like to know? :D –  Danielle Dec 3 '11 at 17:26

2 Answers 2

No, animal in this context means 1

: any of a kingdom (Animalia) of living things including many-celled organisms and often many of the single-celled ones (as protozoans) that typically differ from plants in having cells without cellulose walls, in lacking chlorophyll and the capacity for photosynthesis, in requiring more complex food materials (as proteins), in being organized to a greater degree of complexity, and in having the capacity for spontaneous movement and rapid motor responses to stimulation

likely snakes, eels, worms, etc based on the context.

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No. Definition 4a is for the use of the word "animal" itself, as in a "party animal." The quoted text refers to the use of animals themselves as metaphors and allusions in the speeches of J. Edgar Hoover.

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