1 of 2


: a sudden sharp decline of a population of animals or plants that is not caused directly by human activity

die off

2 of 2


died off; dying off; dies off

intransitive verb

: to die sequentially either singly or in numbers so that the total number is greatly diminished

Examples of die-off in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
The Oregon incident comes on the heels of a mass Chinook salmon smolt die-off in Northern California. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 5 Apr. 2024 Since 2007, the first census after alarming bee die-offs began in 2006, the honeybee has been the fastest-growing livestock segment in the country! Andrew Van Dam, Washington Post, 29 Mar. 2024 Large animal die-offs are often due to biotoxins, viruses or bacterial infections. Susanne Rust, Los Angeles Times, 27 Mar. 2024 California wildlife officials report large die-off of salmon fry The first release of Chinook salmon fry in northern California didn’t go according to plan. Elizabeth Robinson, NBC News, 5 Mar. 2024 Species like shad often experience some level of die-off when temperatures drop. Joe Cermele, Field & Stream, 14 Mar. 2024 But the recent die-off of salmon fry was unintentional. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Mar. 2024 On the state’s east coast, decades of sewage and fertilizer pollution had led to a mass die-off of seagrass, which the animals rely on for food. Jason Gulley Catrin Einhorn, New York Times, 7 Mar. 2024 The investigation, much like the mass die-off of the bees, was unique, Cooper said. Caleb Lunetta, San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Jan. 2024
Share [Findings] Inland waters are emitting previously unaccounted-for levels of carbon dioxide, and freshwater insects are flourishing even as terrestrial insects are dying off. Rafil Kroll-Zaidi, Harper's Magazine, 27 Mar. 2024 Through tonight: Winds die off with the sunset while skies remain mostly clear. Ian Livingston, Washington Post, 21 Mar. 2024 This is only needed for a few days - to ensure any remaining lice on those surfaces naturally die off. USA TODAY, 16 Mar. 2024 Shading the understory can cause diverse grasses and shrubs to die off–triggering a ripple effect of cascading species losses all across the food web. Popular Science, 15 Feb. 2024 The problem of witnesses dying off or forgetting details also afflicts the government’s case. Carol Rosenberg, New York Times, 23 Feb. 2024 This particular trope about Biden and Ukraine and the bribe that wasn’t is unlikely to die off swiftly. Susan B. Glasser, The New Yorker, 22 Feb. 2024 Large amounts of plankton-eating fish died off as a result, leaving mosasaurs and plesiosaurs to face eventual extinction due to a shortage of nourishment. Jack Knudson, Discover Magazine, 22 Dec. 2023 Older generations, admirably resilient, are inevitably dying off, and youngsters want their chips and cookies and cell phones. Chris Vognar, Rolling Stone, 30 Aug. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'die-off.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1936, in the meaning defined above


1697, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of die-off was in 1697

Dictionary Entries Near die-off

Cite this Entry

“Die-off.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/die-off. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: a sudden sharp drop in the numbers of plants or animals in a group
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!