\ ˈdeth How to pronounce death (audio) \

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 Police are currently waiting for the medical examiner to determine the cause of death. Fox News, "Suspect, 14, in custody in death of well-known animal rescuer found tied to bed: police," 9 Nov. 2019 Coroner’s officials have scheduled an autopsy to determine the man’s cause and manner of death. Lauren Hernández,, "Coroner’s office working to identify man’s remains found in Pittsburg park," 8 Nov. 2019 Alzheimer’s Disease is the sixth-leading cause of death in the U.S. and affects millions of Americans — as well as their caregivers — each year. David Anderson,, "Congressman Andy Harris gives hope for Alzheimer’s cure, citing greater federal funding, in visit to Bel Air," 7 Nov. 2019 People who at times seemed almost preternaturally indifferent to the probability of death would at other times revert to outright panic at the blast of an IED. David French, National Review, "Inside the Rise and Fall of ISIS’s Caliphate," 7 Nov. 2019 There is a mental health crisis in America; among comparable countries, the U.S. has the highest rate of death from mental health and substance use disorders. USA TODAY, "2020 election: Democratic presidential candidate Tom Steyer shares his views on current issues," 7 Nov. 2019 But the Chinese residents of Singapore in large part moved past a shared taboo against cremation, and religious leaders may choose to shift their thinking toward the rites of death as the cemetery crisis worsens. Caroline Delbert, Popular Mechanics, "Extreme Weather Could Wreak Havoc on Cemeteries," 7 Nov. 2019 There are no signs of foul play, and the cause of death was determined to be accidental, according to the release. Mike Cruz, azcentral, "Show Low man found dead in national forest with injuries from falling tree he had cut," 7 Nov. 2019 An autopsy later revealed that the cause of death was homicide by asphyxia and suffocation. Helen Murphy,, "Woman Charged with Murder 23 Years After Baby Girl Was Found Dead in a Trash Bag in Colorado," 6 Nov. 2019

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 2019

Time Traveler for death

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

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More Definitions for death


How to pronounce death (audio)

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 How to pronounce death (audio) \

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 How to pronounce death (audio) \

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for death

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

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