Humans are animals.

The term "animals" is sometimes used to mean all animals (including humans) and is sometimes used to mean every animal except for humans.

Is there a word that means non-human animals?

  • 5
    English has no such precision. A robot is nonhuman. Most mammals are sentient. And other terms will have similar deficiencies. If you want to specify non-human animals you need to say so explicitly.
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 26, 2016 at 20:38
  • 12
    @HotLicks : No, you don't. When I ask someone how many animals he has in his house, it's obvious what I mean. When I tell someone I went to the zoo to see animals, it's also obvious. If I was hiking and someone asks how many animals did I see, it's also obvious, and not one will misunderstand it, except for someone who deliberately does it to drive some agenda. The word "animal" is very commonly used in everyday speech, and nowhere except in more technical talk does it mean exactly the same as "metazoa".
    – vsz
    Jun 27, 2016 at 15:19
  • 4
    I think you have said it yourself. "Animal" can be used to mean non-human animals in the right context. If you were at the zoo and someone said "look at all the animals," that would almost always mean the non-human animals. Jun 27, 2016 at 19:16
  • 4
    Related: english.stackexchange.com/q/277434/14073
    – MetaEd
    Jun 27, 2016 at 20:42
  • 3
    @vsz - You miss the point. Because the meaning of "animals" is, as you say, "obvious" in a given context, there is no need to have set terms that are precise (and, lacking such need, the terms don't exist). Only if one demands that the usage be completely unambiguous, in spite of context (or the lack thereof), is it necessary to use explicit wording (in the form of a phrase of several words).
    – Hot Licks
    Jun 28, 2016 at 0:33

5 Answers 5


"Wildlife" could be used to differentiate between humans and non-human animals, but will not account for any non-human domesticated animals like dogs, cats, birds, etc.

From Merriam-Webster:

living things and especially mammals, birds, and fishes that are neither human nor domesticated

Another option could be "Fauna" which describes the animals common in a particular region at a given time.

From Merriam-Webster:

animal life; especially : the animals characteristic of a region, period, or special environment

However, the definition does not specifically exclude humans. In common usage, "fauna" pertains to the "wildlife" ie. non-domesticated animals unless describing prehistoric human species/ancestors (which we could consider "non-domesticated"). If someone were to ask about the current fauna of America, I would assume they were looking for non-human, non-pet, native wildlife of the area.


"Beast" is a bit biblical, perhaps, but it is commonly understood to mean non-human animals.

From Merriam-Webster:

Beast: 1 a : a four-footed mammal as distinguished from a human being, a lower vertebrate, and an invertebrate

b : a lower animal as distinguished from a human being

More clarification from the Oxford English Dictionary follows. The omitted passage in the parenthetical (which is theirs) explains that beast was especially used in biblical translations for the similar concept from the Greek and Latin (confirming the source of the biblical flavor). The overall OED entry for beast also seems to confirm that the word is now mostly literary or antiquated for the broader sense argued for here, and it distinguishes from the literal and metaphorical senses when applied to man.

From OED:

I. Literal senses. 1. A living being, an animal. (Used to translate .... Now restricted in literary use as in sense 2, but still widely applied in dialect and colloquial use, including e.g. newts, insects, centipedes.)

a. In early times, explicitly including man. Obs.

b. In later times, applied to the lower animals, as distinct from man.

(Examples from published usage omitted here.)

Sense 2 (as referenced above, also from OED):

  1. a. A quadruped (or animal popularly regarded as such), as distinguished from birds, reptiles, fishes, insects, etc., as well as from man. (Now the ordinary literary use.)

Additional senses (2b, 3, etc.) have to do with more specialized kinds of uses (animals as hunted, domesticated animals, etc.).

  • 23
    The term beast is also applied to humans, men and women, when their behaviour is considered especially deviant or inhumane. And, ironically, it can also be used a compliment
    – Mari-Lou A
    Jun 27, 2016 at 11:16
  • 9
    Beast has a lot of connotations that may not be appropriate, and I wouldn't necessarily assume that its use was meant to mean everything but humans.
    – KRyan
    Jun 27, 2016 at 14:50
  • 3
    While I think this is the best word for non-human animals, I wouldn't use it for a butterfly. Jun 27, 2016 at 19:18
  • 5
    Indeed. While this is probably the best option, it has a strong implication that excludes, for example, insects, fish, and other animal groups. It may also imply an exclusion of primates, or at least those that have a strong resemblance of humans. If these implications are a problem in context, then Tucker's suggetsion of "creature" is probably better, otherwise I would usually use this one.
    – Jules
    Jun 27, 2016 at 20:02
  • 2
    @Mari-Lou A, But in the sense that you are using it specifically means that a person is behaving unlike a human. If you say someone is a beast then you are saying that they are behaving like an animal, not a human. Jun 28, 2016 at 13:02

Creature - an animal, as distinct from a human being.

Creature - 1. an animal, especially a nonhuman:

  • 7
    I've heard human women referred to as "a beautiful creature".
    – dotancohen
    Jun 27, 2016 at 9:32
  • 3
    @dotancohen That's the wonderful thing about English is that you can bend meanings and apply them to another thing to emphasize it. "Sneaky as a fox." "Quick as a snake." Even using Brian's example: "He's a beast!" And so on and so forth...
    – Tucker
    Jun 27, 2016 at 11:04
  • 1
    I see. For what it's worth, the downvote wasn't mine.
    – dotancohen
    Jun 27, 2016 at 11:49
  • 3
    @tucker that wonderful thing can be done with probably every language Jun 27, 2016 at 15:48
  • 5
    Using terms like beast or creature to refer to humans is generally metaphoric. That doesn't change the basic meanings of the words.
    – Barmar
    Jun 27, 2016 at 17:41

The Latin 'fauna' is one option. 'Animals' does not include humans; 'animalistic' refers to behaviour that is sub-human in its character. 'Creatures' does however include humans as part of God's living Creation.

  • 2
    'fauna' is not an option; 'fauna' means the variety and population of animals inside an environment, not a non-human animal.
    – EKons
    Jun 27, 2016 at 13:38
  • 5
    As an animal, I disagree that animals does not include humans.
    – DCShannon
    Jun 27, 2016 at 17:23
  • 1
    @DCShannon: on the internet no one knows you're <del>a dog</del> an animal Jun 27, 2016 at 17:59

From Oxford dictionary


1 A savagely violent man or animal

2 An animal as opposed to a human being

  • 1
    "A savagely violent man" man -> human
    – Pharap
    Jun 28, 2016 at 2:58

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.