ex·ist | \ig-ˈzist \
existed; existing; exists

Definition of exist 

intransitive verb

1a : to have real being whether material or spiritual did unicorns exist the largest galaxy known to exist

b : to have being in a specified place or with respect to understood limitations or conditions strange ideas existed in his mind

2 : to continue to be racism still exists in society

3a : to have life or the functions of vitality we cannot exist without oxygen

b : to live at an inferior level or under adverse circumstances the hungry existing from day to day

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for exist


be, breathe, live, subsist


depart, die, expire, pass away, perish, succumb

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of exist in a Sentence

She believes that ghosts really do exist. It's the largest galaxy known to exist. Does life exist on Mars? The Internet didn't exist then. We shouldn't ignore the problems that exist in our own community. Racism still exists in our society. The organization may soon cease to exist if more funding isn't provided.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Groupon rejected a $6 billion acquisition offer from Google Inc. (No, Alphabet didn’t exist yet) in 2010 shortly going public with a valuation topping $16 billion in 2011. Laine Higgins, WSJ, "The Score: The Business Week in 7 Stocks," 13 July 2018 If such a thing exists, it might be paid family leave—an issue that Pew reports is supported by 90% of Democrats and 75% of Republicans. Kristen Bellstrom, Fortune, "Sandra Oh, Emmy Nomination, Wimbledon: Broadsheet July 13," 13 July 2018 While costume remains in the past, the set exists in the present (though equally adaptable in the imagination). Demetrios Matheou, The Hollywood Reporter, "'The Lehman Trilogy': Theater Review," 13 July 2018 Stigma exists because people have been made to feel like mental and behavioral health challenges are personal character flaws, versus being like any other medical condition. Lyndsey Havens, Billboard, "Portugal. The Man Advocate For Mental Health Awareness At Oregon Tour Stops: Exclusive," 12 July 2018 Instagram's Questions Sticker has only existed for 48 hours, but it's already been branded a mute-able offense. Madeline Buxton, refinery29.com, ""Ask Me A Question" Is Not The Only Way To Use Instagram's Questions Sticker," 12 July 2018 Plenty of information exists about, say, the limits of comparison between the complex lives of human beings and the simple ones of giant sea insects. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018 When the Petersons tied the knot, smartphones with digital cameras didn’t exist. Lisa Maria Garza, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Couples married before 'Pinterest age' set to renew vows in farewell to Winter Park civic center," 12 July 2018 Currently, differences of 10 to 20 times among neighbors already exist and this leads to less turnover of for-sale housing inventory. Elizabeth Marie Himchak, Pomerado News, "Real estate expert talks about potential impact of rent control," 12 July 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of exist

circa 1568, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for exist

Latin exsistere to come into being, exist, from ex- + sistere to stand, stop; akin to Latin stare to stand — more at stand

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about exist

Dictionary Entries near exist








Statistics for exist

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exist

The first known use of exist was circa 1568

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for exist



English Language Learners Definition of exist

: to have actual being : to be real

: to continue to be or to live


ex·ist | \ig-ˈzist \
existed; existing

Kids Definition of exist

1 : to have actual being : be real Do unicorns exist?

2 : to be found : occur Problems exist in every neighborhood.

3 : to continue to live She barely earned enough to exist.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on exist

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


exaggeratedly or childishly emotional

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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