animus has the etymology of "breath, life", just like animate.

How does animus have the meaning of ill will?


Dictionary.com shows the etymology of animus to be:

1810–20; < Latin: mind, spirit, courage, passion, wrath; akin to anima

So its etymology is not in fact what you suggest, but more along the lines of "passion" and "wrath", which easily leads to the idea of "ill will".

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  • But why not good will? – Tim Oct 8 '13 at 15:18
  • I guess the Romans thought that when you got "passionate", it was usually because you were in a bad mood? – Jez Oct 8 '13 at 15:18
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    Because it comes from a PIE root 'ane-' which means 'wind' and therefore 'breathe' or 'exhale' - by extension giving the meaning of temper, passion and wrath. And of course the same root meaning allows the other interpretation of 'life'. – user49727 Oct 8 '13 at 16:18

It comes from the various meanings of Latin animus (substantive), and animosus (adjective) ; both can bear a positive aspect (being full of life, or courage) and a negative one (violence).

Animosity comes from the French animosité, which retains only the second mood, and probably influenced the English meaning of "animus"

However, "animal" means etymologically "gifted with life", by opposition of vegetation supposed in the past to be inert (hence : vegetative). One more mistake from Aristotle.

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