early 14c., "any sentient living creature" (including humans), from Latin animale "living being, being which breathes," noun use of neuter of animalis (adj.) "animate, living; of the air," from anima "breath, soul; a current of air" (from PIE root *ane- "to breathe;" compare deer). A rare word in English before c. 1600, and not in KJV (1611). Commonly only of non-human creatures. It drove out the older beast in common usage. Used derisively of brutish humans (in which the "animal," or non-rational, non-spiritual nature is ascendant) from 1580s.
Quid est homo? A dedlych best and resonable, animal racionale. ["Battlefield Grammar," c. 1450]
late 14c., "pertaining to the animal spirit of man," that is, "pertaining to the merely sentient (as distinguished from the intellectual, rational, or spiritual) qualities of a human being," from Latin animalis, from animale (see animal (n.)).
From 1540s as "pertaining to sensation;" 1630s as "pertaining to or derived from beasts;" 1640s as "pertaining to the animal kingdom" (as opposed to vegetable or mineral); 1650s as "having life, living." Animal rights is attested from 1879; animal liberation from 1973. Animal magnetism originally (1784) referred to mesmerism.