Cartoon is a term that once referred to fine art during the renaissance period. Somehow, though, the term's meaning evolved (or devolved, depending on how you look at it) into humorous and witty illustrations and, finally, into animated programs meant to entertain people, mostly children. For, clarity, the term 'cartoon' in this article shall be referring to the animated programs. Recently, however, a new term has been coined: Anime. And the distinction between these two has caused much confusion.
Strictly speaking though, there should be no distinction between anime and cartoon. Anime is a term used by the Japanese to refer to animated cartoons, from their own country and from others as well. Somehow, though, the world started using the term anime in reference to Japanese cartoons exclusively. Japanese animation was once called japanimation, but this term was aptly discarded when the term 'Anime' was put into use.
Some say that they see absolutely no difference between the two, even going so far as to classify both cartoons and anime as 'childish' because of the nature of how they are presented, much to the woe of anime fans. Technically, there's no official difference and they are somewhat correct. But you only have to watch a single episode of any anime series and you'll see that anime is far more than your usual slapstick comedy man-tripping-on-a-banana-peal early morning cartoons. There is a real and profound difference between the two besides their spellings: Anime is so much more than 'just a cartoon'.