life

noun
\ ˈlīf How to pronounce life (audio) \
plural lives\ ˈlīvz How to pronounce lives (audio) \

Definition of life

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional being from a dead body
b : a principle or force that is considered to underlie the distinctive quality of animate beings
c : an organismic state characterized by capacity for metabolism (see metabolism sense 1), growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
2a : the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual children … are the joy of our lives— Agnes S. Turnbull
b : one or more aspects of the process of living sex life of the frog
3 : biography sense 1 the life of George Washington
4 : spiritual existence transcending (see transcend sense 1c) physical death his craving … for the release into the life to come— Rodney Gilbert
5a : the period from birth to death
b : a specific phase of earthly existence adult life
c : the period from an event until death a judge appointed for life
d : a sentence of imprisonment for the remainder of a convict's life
6 : a way or manner of living the life of the colonists
7 : livelihood The fishing village drew its life from the sea.
8 : a vital or living being specifically : person many lives were lost in the disaster
9 : an animating and shaping force or principle the life of the constitution … has been not logic but experience— F. A. Ogg & Harold Zink
10 : spirit, animation saw no life in her dancing
11 : the form or pattern of something existing in reality painted from life
12 : the period of duration, usefulness, or popularity of something the expected life of the batteries
13 : the period of existence (as of a subatomic particle) — compare half-life
14 : a property (such as resilience (see resilience sense 1) or elasticity) of an inanimate (see inanimate sense 1) substance or object resembling the animate quality of a living being
15 : living beings (as of a particular kind or environment) forest life
16a : human activities
b : animate activity and movement stirrings of life
c : the activities of a given sphere, area, or time the political life of the country
17 : one providing interest and vigor life of the party
18 : an opportunity for continued viability gave the patient a new life
19 capitalized, Christian Science : god sense 1b
20 : something resembling animate life a grant saved the project's life

life

adjective

Definition of life (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : of or relating to animate being
2 : lifelong a life member
3 : using a living model a life class
4 : of, relating to, or provided by life insurance a life policy

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for life

Synonyms: Noun

bio, biography, memoir

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of life in a Sentence

Noun

He believes that God gives life to all creatures. She was happy and healthy for most of her life. The people in her family tend to have long lives. I've known her all my life. He is nearing the end of his life. People can expect to change jobs several times in their life . They've been waiting their whole life for an opportunity like this. What do you really want out of life? All this paperwork has made life much more difficult. The details of everyday life can be fascinating.

Adjective

the life force in all things He was given a life sentence in prison.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The life-threatening infection started in his ear canal and ended up spreading to the lining of his brain after years of struggling with ear pain and hearing loss issues but not knowing the root of the problem. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "A Man Developed a Near-Fatal Infection in His Brain Lining After Using a Cotton Swab," 15 Mar. 2019 In a new interview with Vanity Fair, Blair discusses her life-changing diagnosis and her dream of creating an accessible fashion line in the future. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Selma Blair Wants to Create an Accessible Fashion Line for Disabled People After MS Diagnosis," 27 Feb. 2019 But thanks to Instagram, nostalgia, and the allure of a certain way of life, the A-frame is back and better than ever. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Affordable A-frame house can be built by just two people," 11 Jan. 2019 If the Senate passes the bill, hundreds of thousands of American lives would be spared from gun violence. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "How to Get the H.R. 8 Universal Background Checks Bill Passed in the Senate," 28 Feb. 2019 When one of them dies unexpectedly, the others see it as a wake up call to stop taking life — and their bond — for granted. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "'A Million Little Things' Season 2 Sounds Like It's Going to Seriously Shock Fans," 28 Feb. 2019 Many cultures throughout Europe embraced the idea that eggs had life-giving associations. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, "The History of Easter Eggs and Why They're Decorated," 25 Feb. 2019 Lawmakers continue acting like the solutions are some sort of mystery, as if there aren’t years of research and experiences in other countries that show restrictions on firearms can save lives. German Lopez, Vox, "I’ve covered gun violence for years. The solutions aren’t a big mystery.," 14 Feb. 2019 From the outset, MoMA was interested in ideas of how to extend art—in all of its forms—into everyday life. Monique Valeris, ELLE Decor, "The Museum of Modern Art's Upcoming 'Value of Good Design' Exhibit is Not One to Miss," 7 Feb. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Sometimes in life things happen that are totally out of your control. Joseph Person, charlotteobserver, "Panthers LB Thomas Davis talks suspension, possible (likely?) change in plan beyond that," 14 June 2018 And happy birthday to Barbara (a year younger than universal credit cards), from Kit, who outlines her Life Timeline like this: My mom is turning 66 in July. Rosa Inocencio Smith, The Atlantic, "The Atlantic," 9 July 2017 Or possibly bring his More Life international collaborators to the U.S. stage? Nerisha Penrose, Billboard, "A Look Back at Drake's Past Awards Show Performances Before Billboard Music Awards," 19 May 2017 This actually has little to do with profanity; something can be profane or crude and still fundamentally life-affirming. Carolyn Hax, The Mercury News, "Carolyn Hax: Wife just looking for respite from all the anger," 5 Mar. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'life.' 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 life

Noun

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for life

Noun and Adjective

Middle English lif, from Old English līf; akin to Old English libban to live — more at live

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about life

Statistics for life

Last Updated

20 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for life

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for life

life

noun

English Language Learners Definition of life

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: the ability to grow, change, etc., that separates plants and animals from things like water or rocks
: the period of time when a person is alive
: the experience of being alive

life

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of life (Entry 2 of 2)

: of or relating to life
: done as long as a person lives : existing or lasting throughout a person's life

life

noun
\ ˈlīf How to pronounce life (audio) \
plural lives\ ˈlīvz \

Kids Definition of life

1 : the state characterized by the ability to get and use energy, reproduce, grow, and respond to change : the quality that plants and animals lose when they die
2 : the period during which a person or thing is alive or exists
3 : all the experiences that make up the existence of a person : the course of existence I never heard of such a thing in my life!
4 : existence as a living being He saved my life.
5 : a way of living We studied the life of the ant.
6 : the time when something can be used or enjoyed the life of a battery
7 : energy and spirit They gave the party some life.
8 : biography

life

noun
\ ˈlīf How to pronounce life (audio) \
plural lives\ ˈlīvz How to pronounce lives (audio) \

Medical Definition of life

1a : the quality that distinguishes a vital and functional plant or animal from a dead body
b : a state of living characterized by capacity for metabolism, growth, reaction to stimuli, and reproduction
2a : the sequence of physical and mental experiences that make up the existence of an individual
b : a specific part or aspect of the process of living sex life adult life

Other Words from life

lifeless \ ˈlīf-​ləs How to pronounce lifeless (audio) \ adjective

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on life

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with life

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for life

Spanish Central: Translation of life

Nglish: Translation of life for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of life for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about life

Comments on life

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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