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I keep mixing up animus and anima, and it seems their meanings overlap somewhat. For example, Wiktionary gives the following:

animus: mind, soul, life force; courage, will

anima: soul, spirit, life; air, breeze; breath

Is there a definitive way to distinguish these words?

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    There is a comprehensive explanation here: latin.stackexchange.com/questions/5775/… – Tom Cotton Mar 10 '18 at 17:01
  • @TomCotton. Thanks. What I gather from your answer there is that animus refers to human life ("the essential principle" of it), and anima doesn't. Is that the main thing to keep in mind? – Expedito Bipes Mar 10 '18 at 18:06
  • That's basically correct, but anima can also mean 'air' or 'breath', in which sense it is used in connection with human (or any animate) life. – Tom Cotton Mar 10 '18 at 18:18
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Both animus and anima have a broad meaning and mostly overlap. But there's a nuance. They roughly correspond to Spanish ánimo and ánima/alma. Animus is more about movement, will, the force that moves, about action, change. Whilst anima is more about the inner nature, the force that justifies, about being, about knowing the reasons. The expressions in animo habeo for "I have the intention to" and anima mea when saying "my beloved one" are good examples.

  • I think the distinction became more and more explicit since Christianity for which the concept of soul is crucial and virtually always refered to as anima. – Rafael Mar 12 '18 at 12:50

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