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

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Synonyms & Antonyms for exist


be, breathe, live, subsist


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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Pornography had existed since humans began drawing on cave walls, but Flynt took his to extremes unseen outside of gynecology textbooks. Cincinnati Enquirer, "Read more from this Project," 13 July 2018 So just a week ago when Nicole Curtis, the star of HGTV's Rehab Addict, shared a refreshingly honest post on Instagram, I was reminded of the fact that yes, this dichotomy exists between real life and the Internet world for celebrities, too. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "Nicole Curtis Is Fighting For Custody Of Her 3-Year-Old Son," 11 July 2018 The schools instead became charters, publicly funded alternatives to existing schools that got lackluster results in the inner cities of Baltimore and Philadelphia, where Whittle had been awarded contracts. Sam Tanenhaus, Town & Country, "Can Chris Whittle Launch a Truly Global School?," 10 July 2018 Still, even in places where such frameworks exist, problems can arise. Chelsea Harvey, Scientific American, "Cement Producers Are Developing a Plan to Reduce CO2 Emissions," 9 July 2018 Most people are surprised that the extension services still exist. Judy Buchenot, Naperville Sun, "Suburban Cooks: Gardening provides inspiration," 29 June 2018 The airline, which started as a transatlantic competitor to à la carte carrier Norwegian, will now compete in Europe with Ryanair, which beat out IAG on a bid for existing Austrian budget airline Niki earlier this year. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "Surprise! Europe Is Getting a 'New' Budget Airline," 28 June 2018 President Trump’s broadsides against NATO have rattled a military alliance that has existed for 69 years and that has helped to define the global order since shortly after World War II. John Fritze, USA TODAY, "What is NATO and why is Donald Trump slamming it?," 12 July 2018 Amazon, Hulu, YouTube and almost every other video streaming platform that exists is plagued with similar issues, rendering a huge chunk of the internet inaccessible to millions of us. Ace Ratcliff, SELF, "I Rely On Closed Captions to Enjoy a Show And I Don't Appreciate Netflix's Way of Censoring Them," 10 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.

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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

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Statistics for exist

Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for exist

The first known use of exist was circa 1568

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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.

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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).


to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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