Animals are generally distinguished from plants by being unable to synthesize organic molecules from inorganic ones, so that they have to feed on plants or on other animals. They are typically able to move about, though this ability is sometimes restricted to a particular stage in the life cycle. The great majority of animals are invertebrates, of which there are some thirty phyla; the vertebrates constitute but a single subphylum.
- 2 Biology relating to or denoting the pole or extremity of an embryo that contains the more active cytoplasm in the early stages of development. The opposite of vegetal.
Middle English: the noun from Latin animal, based on Latin animalis 'having breath' from anima 'breath'; the adjective via Old French from Latin animalis