Simply put a big word that means attaching human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities.

This Calvin and Hobbs cartoon is a great explanation.

“Historically, anthropomorphizing has been treated as a sign of childishness or stupidity, but it’s actually a natural byproduct of the tendency that makes humans uniquely smart on this planet. No other species has this tendency.” —Nicholas Epley, a professor of behavioral science at the University of Chicago and anthropomorphism expert

Why and how humans have this ability can’t be fully explained because our brains are so very complicated. Finding human characteristics in inanimate objects signals the brain’s creativity at work.

We are social animals. We want to befriend everyone we meet, give them a name, and talk to them.

If you saw the movie Castaway Tom Hanks’ beloved best friend was Wilson, a volleyball with a face. If you haven’t seen it, you should. It’s a great film.

Aesop’s fables personified the wind and sun. Beauty and the Beast brought knives and forks to life. Personification is a literary technique like anthropomorphizing, but not the same.

When I talk to my dogs, my plants, my car, and lots of things that can’t talk back, I’m anthropomorphizing. Naming non-human things is another example.

Our downstairs iRobot vacuum is CP3O, upstairs iRobot is R2D2. The canning strainer that we use to make applesauce and tomato juice is Shirley. The metal art dragon guarding our backyard is Custard.

Houseplants have names too and sometimes they even perk up when I talk to them.

Violet needs a pep talk. The summer heat is taking a toll.

My Old English sheepdog Finnegan MacCool and I communicate well. Not that he’s thinking, it’s more hours and hours of training.

Because he has more understanding than Violet or Custard, I use facial expressions and key phrases when talking to him.

Fellow anthropomorphizing pet owners will relate. Others think I’ve gone cuckoo.

That’s okay.

I take comfort in Nicolas Epley’s words that anthropomorphizing demonstrates superior intellect and creativity.

Do you have any inanimate friends you have anthropomorphized?