What is the plural of the words “animus” and “anima”? In any context (literary, Jung psychology, apothecary etc.). Is there English v. Latin differences? Interwebs are no help: versions differ from “animuses”, to “animi”, to uncountable. “Animuses” is correct as native English plural, if I understand correctly (then “animas” for feminine?). If we take Latin route, would it be “animi” for masculine, and “animae” for feminine?

2 Answers 2


According to the OED, the Jungian terms anima and animus have no plural form in English.

animus /ˈænɪməs/.

No pl.

Etymology: a. L. animus (1) soul, (2) mind, (3) mental impulse, disposition, passion.

  1. Actuating feeling, disposition in a particular direction, animating spirit or temper, usually of a hostile character; hence, animosity.

  2. Psychol. Jung’s term for the masculine component of a female personality. Cf. anima.

anima /ˈænɪmə/.


Etymology: L., ‘mind, soul’.

Jung’s term for the inner part of the personality or character, as opposed to the persona or outer part; also, the feminine component of a male personality. Cf. animus 2.

They are in essence mass nouns, not count nouns.

In English, that is.

In Latin, where they do not mean what they do per Jung, anima and animus are unremarkable nominative singulars of the first and second declensions, respectively. They therefore form their nominative plural and genitive singular as anima > animae and animus > animi, and genitive plurals as anima > animarum and animus > animorum. So soul, souls/soul’s, and souls’.

  • Nullum autem est, nisi quod animus ex se sibi invenit.   ― Seneca the Younger
    [~ “There can be no good except for what the soul discovers for itself within itself.”]

  • Magnificat anima mea dominum.   ― J.S. Bach ☺
    [traditionally translated as “My soul doth magnify the Lord.”]

  • Wish I could +2 you for quoting both Seneca and Bach. Nov 29, 2012 at 22:17
  • What about archaic pharmacological meaning of “anima”? MW reads: 2 in old pharmacy a: the active ingredient of an animal or vegetable drug b: a dried plant juice or an aqueous extract
    – theUg
    Nov 29, 2012 at 22:19
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    @theUG I don’t know. All the casually scrawled recipes my apothecary receives from my physicker are always in Latin anyway. :)
    – tchrist
    Nov 29, 2012 at 22:24
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    Actually Bach wrote the music; the lyricist was either Mary or St Jerome. Nov 29, 2012 at 22:43
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    @theUg Latin didn’t have masculine souls and feminine souls. But yes, mixed groups take masculine in Latin. Also, they is not necessarily “plural” in sense in English, only in agreement. If someone can’t find their own way home, there is still only one of them. We just don’t know anything about them is all.
    – tchrist
    Nov 29, 2012 at 23:32

Merriam-Webster gives plurals when they form irregularly, as in louse, child, or sheep. M-W doesn't comment at all when a noun has no plural, like mathematics or information. In the case of animus/anima, M-W doesn't list a plural, which to my mind indicates the M-W considers it either (a) without plural; or (b) with a plural formed along standard lines.

In English, often a Latin ending is used for one meaning, and the anglicized ending is used in another related, but different way. Index is a good example. In technical writing, index can be either a measurement or a table of references at the back of a book. The former is pluralized indices and the latter is pluralized indexes (anglicized). This precise usage is common, but not entirely standardized, I should think.

All this is to say that if you find yourself in a situation that requires a plural for animus or anima, you might use something of the same approach: -es/-s for general, and -i/-ae for technical (like Jung's use), or vice versa.

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    OED. Good call. Without the OED mine makes sense, but as usual, I yield to the scholarly gentlemen from the Mother Country.
    – Ryan Haber
    Nov 29, 2012 at 22:30

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