to attribute human characteristic
s to nature
, inanimate object
s, or animal
s, but not quite as formally giving the thing a human identity
as in personification
. Also called the emotional fallacy.
The phrase was invented by John Ruskin in 1856 to talk about literature -- Ruskin said only the greatest poets could do this well and too much of it was the mark of an inferior poet, but the phrase has become somewhat less negative in connotation since then.