early 15c., "without vital force,having lost life," from Late Latin inanimatus "lifeless," from in- "not" (see in- (1)) + animatus (see animation). The Latin word closest corresponding in form and sense is inanimalis. Meaning "lacking vivacity, without spirit, dull" is from 1734. Inanimate as a verb meant "infuse with life or vigor" (17c.), from the other in- (see in- (2)).