\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

The two, however, broke up in mid-October shortly after the death of Miller. Krystin Arneson, Glamour, "Ariana Grande Just Shut Down People Who Say She's 'Milking' Mac Miller's Death," 25 Nov. 2018 First, the pro-bathroom camp will fight to the death for their potties. Megan Barber, Curbed, "RV toilets: 5 alternatives to a full bathroom in your camper," 9 Nov. 2018 Last year, Amazon faced fines following the death of two warehouse workers who were killed in accidents at separate facilities. Jason Del Rey, Recode, "Two workers have died at an Amazon warehouse in Baltimore," 3 Nov. 2018 Barbara Bollier: Causing both injury and death, gun violence also significantly increases the stress that many people live with. Kaitlin Menza, Redbook, "Everything You Need to Know Before Voting in the Midterm Elections," 10 Oct. 2018 Meghan McCain returned to her role as a co-host on The View this morning with a tearful thank you to the supporters who stood by her and her family in the wake of the death of her father, Senator John McCain. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, "Meghan McCain Returned to The View With a Tearful Thank You to Fans," 8 Oct. 2018 Seven hours after your fight with life and death, seven hours after your body breaks open, and bloody, screaming life comes out. Marci Robin, Allure, "Keira Knightley Pens Powerful Essay on the Realities of Childbirth and Sexism in Hollywood," 6 Oct. 2018 Poisons are any substance that can cause harm, including death, to an organism. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, "20 Things You Didn't Know About ... Poison," 25 Sep. 2018 This week, Mason was named a suspect in his wife’s death which drew attention to Fudge’s past support for him, according to Tara Golshan, Vox, "Ohio Democrat Marcia Fudge will not challenge Nancy Pelosi," 21 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

10 Dec 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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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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a nest or breeding place

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