\ ˈdeth \

Definition of death

1a : a permanent cessation of all vital (see vital sense 2a) functions : the end of life The cause of death has not been determined. managed to escape death prisoners were put to death death threats — compare brain death
b : an instance of dying a disease causing many deaths lived there until her death
2a : the cause or occasion of loss of life drinking was the death of him
b : a cause of ruin the slander that was death to my character— Wilkie Collins The drought was death to the farm.
3 capitalized, folklore : the destroyer of life represented usually as a skeleton with a scythe when death comes to take me away
4 : the state of being no longer alive : the state of being dead
5a : the passing or destruction of something inanimate the death of vaudeville
b : extinction the death of the dinosaurs
6 law : civil death
7 : slaughter death and destruction
8 Christian Science : the lie of life in matter : that which is unreal and untrue
at death's door
: close to death : critically ill
to death
: beyond endurance : excessively bored to death scared to death of spiders I am sick to death of hearing your excuses. Most high rollers prefer Atlantic City and Las Vegas, where they are comped to death and have more diversions.— William G. Flanagan et al.

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Examples of death in a Sentence

birth, life, and eventual death The newspaper did not report the cause of death. People around the world mourned his death. The accident resulted in two deaths. The number of deaths from cancer is rising. He died a violent death. There has been a death in the family. The general met his death on the battlefield. the death of a marriage Death could be seen lurking in the corner of the painting.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Clooney mentioned Princess Diana in his previous comments, which is significant because about 20 years ago, after her death, a young Clooney made a fiery speech at the Screen Actors Guild office in Los Angeles. Elise Taylor, Vogue, "George Clooney Defends Meghan Markle: “She’s Been Pursued and Vilified”," 12 Feb. 2019 Mac Miller was also nominated for the award, his only nomination of the night since his death late last year. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Ariana Grande Posts Angry Tweets in Response to Mac Miller's Loss at the 2019 Grammy Awards," 11 Feb. 2019 Artist Robert Guthrie renovated and designed the 100-year-old space, living there until his death in 2014. Kaitlin Menza, House Beautiful, "Would You Live in This Converted Gas Station in New Orleans?," 1 Feb. 2019 The interview isn't the first time she's talked about her dad's presence in her life and how she's coped since his death. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Vanessa Hudgens on the Life Lessons She Learned From Her Father's Death in 2016," 8 Jan. 2019 And Patrick has been in a ton of movies and television series since his tragic Grey's death in 2015, including the upcoming Epix miniseries The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair. Michelle Manetti, Good Housekeeping, "'Grey's Anatomy' Fans Are Losing It Over the Comment Patrick Dempsey Left on Kate Walsh's Instagram," 28 Jan. 2019 Such an accusation would have the potential for the death penalty, which Chinese officials seem to be avoiding in this unprecedented situation. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Chinese Government Officially Charges CRISPR Baby Scientist," 22 Jan. 2019 Chicago Fire has been known for its cruel deaths in the past, but would the show really introduce a budding romance just to kill off one (or both) of the characters off?! Kelly O'sullivan, Country Living, "A Terrifying 'Chicago Fire' Sneak Peek Shows Casey Fighting for His Life," 8 Jan. 2019 After the solstice, Ra would slowly start glowing brighter and stronger, and an evergreen's immortality symbolized the triumph of life over death. Nicol Natale, Woman's Day, "Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?," 15 Nov. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'death.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of death

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for death

Middle English deeth, from Old English dēath; akin to Old Norse dauthi death, deyja to die — more at die

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Statistics for death

Last Updated

19 Feb 2019

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Time Traveler for death

The first known use of death was before the 12th century

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More Definitions for death



English Language Learners Definition of death

: the end of life : the time when someone or something dies
: the ending of a particular person's life
: the permanent end of something that is not alive : the ruin or destruction of something


\ ˈdeth \

Kids Definition of death

1 : the end or ending of life
2 : the cause of loss of life Drinking will be the death of him.
3 : the state of being dead He was more famous in death than in life.
4 : ruin entry 2 sense 1, extinction DVDs meant the death of videotape.
to death
: very entry 1 sense 1, extremely We were scared to death.

Other Words from death

deathlike \ -​ˌlīk \ adjective


\ ˈdeth \

Medical Definition of death

1 : the irreversible cessation of all vital functions especially as indicated by permanent stoppage of the heart, respiration, and brain activity : the end of life — see brain death
2 : the cause or occasion of loss of life drinking was the death of him
3 : the state of being dead in death as in life

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Legal Definition of death

: a permanent cessation of all vital bodily functions : the end of life — see also brain death, civil death

Note: Death is usually defined by statute and for purposes of criminal homicide has been held to include brain death.

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More from Merriam-Webster on death

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with death

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for death

Spanish Central: Translation of death

Nglish: Translation of death for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of death for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about death

Comments on death

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excited commotion or publicity

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