\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

In reality, Joe is a much bigger threat to Beck’s safety than Peach ever was, his obsession with Beck leading to the death of those loved by Beck. Elana Rubin, Teen Vogue, "You Is the Psychological Thriller Showing How Dangerous Rom-Com Tropes Can Be," 7 Nov. 2018 This weekend, country singer Lauren Alaina took to Twitter and Instagram to share the heartbreaking news of the death of her stepfather, Sam Ramker, who suffered from stage 4 cancer. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "Country Star Lauren Alaina Opens Up About Her Stepdad’s Death and Cancer Battle," 22 Oct. 2018 This will likely be Ariana's first performance since her split and her first public appearance since the death of her ex-boyfriend, Mac Miller. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "Ariana Grande Breaks Her Silence After Pete Davidson Engagement Split," 17 Oct. 2018 Apartment Therapy reports that Zsa Zsa lived in the house until her death in 2016. Danielle Tullo, House Beautiful, "Elvis Presley’s Former Bel Air Mansion Is For Sale, And I'm All Shook Up," 30 July 2018 Until his death at 89 years old in 2006, CBS reports that the Major was known for defending his daughter against anyone who tried to vilify her. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Camilla Parker Bowles's Parents Didn't Like the Idea of Their Daughter Marrying Prince Charles," 19 July 2018 The death of four American soldiers in an ambush in Niger last October is already raising doubts about the scale of America’s involvement in Africa. The Economist, "The fight against Islamic State is moving to Africa," 14 July 2018 The move came amid the U.S. Department of Justice’s review of the agency after the death of Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old Baltimore man who died of injuries suffered while in police custody. Talia Richman,, "'I only ever wanted justice,' says 18-year-old allegedly assaulted by Baltimore officer," 14 July 2018 The cartoonist was John Callahan, a proudly politically incorrect quadriplegic artist who lived in Portland, Ore., until his death, in 2010, at 59. Ty Burr,, "Joaquin Phoenix and Gus Van Sant discuss ‘Far on Foot’," 12 July 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

12 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

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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Comments on death

What made you want to look up death? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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