life

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

Essential Meaning of life

1 : the ability to grow, change, etc., that separates plants and animals from things like water or rocks He believes that God gives life to all creatures. the miracle of life eternal/everlasting life
2 : the period of time when a person is alive She knew what she wanted to do early in life. [=when she was young] He became famous relatively late in life. [=at a relatively old age] See More ExamplesHe became famous later in life. = He became famous in later life. She was happy and healthy for most of her life. The people in her family tend to have long/short lives. I've known her all my life. He is nearing the end of his life. They spent their whole/entire lives in one town. = They lived in one town all their lives. People can expect to change jobs several times in their life/lives. They've been waiting their whole/entire life/lives for an opportunity like this. This is the financial opportunity of his life. [=of his lifetime; the best chance in his life to make money]Hide
3 : the experience of being alive What do you really want out of life? He believes in living life to the fullest. [=in living a very full and rich life] See More ExamplesAll this paperwork has made life much more difficult. The details of everyday/ordinary life can be fascinating. life in the city/country = city/country life Sometimes life just isn't fair. We can laugh at things in movies that would scare us in real life. [=in a real situation; in actual existence] Oh well, that's life! [=bad things will happen, and you have to deal with them] Despite the political upheaval, for most people life goes on as usual. [=the activities of life continue in the usual way] What do you really want to do with your life? Her children say that she has ruined their lives. She talked about the men in her life. [=the men she has had a romantic or close relationship with during her life] She has dedicated/devoted her life to helping other people. All this paperwork has made my life much more difficult. They're trying to get/put their lives back together. [=to begin living in a normal way after suffering loss, hardship, etc.] She was the love of my life. [=the person I loved more than any other person at any time in my life] I've never heard such a silly idea in all my life! [=at any time] = Never in my life have I heard such a silly idea! They're old enough to run/live their own lives. [=to make their own decisions about how to live] After all the problems they've had recently, they just want to get/move on with their lives. [=to continue living their lives in the usual way] I'm not surprised that I didn't get the job. That's the story of my life. [=that's the way things usually or always happen in my life]Hide

Full 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

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Synonyms for life

Synonyms: Noun

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Spend time this weekend indulging in life’s simplest, most enduring pleasures. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive, 18 Sep. 2021 In the film, and in life, Tammy is the force propelling Jim to greater and greater heights. Sarah Jones, Vulture, 18 Sep. 2021 Or try it in real life on a street with little cross traffic. Fortune, 18 Sep. 2021 Biden, by contrast, has an understanding of history born of his half-century in public life as well as from his consultations with historian Jon Meacham. Washington Post, 17 Sep. 2021 It's played out in real life, as well as in countless books, TV shows and movies. CNN, 17 Sep. 2021 As if evoking the variation between actual vulvas in real life, some are done in a kind of surging bas-relief, while other plates are flat. Jo Livingstone, The New Republic, 17 Sep. 2021 Ratajkowski mused on her new stage in life while getting ready for the gala. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 17 Sep. 2021 Mind you, there are very few things in life that are truly free. Laura Begley Bloom, Forbes, 16 Sep. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The male dirt bike rider, whose identity has not been released, was also taken to the same hospital for treatment of non-life threatening injuries, Cruz’s office said. BostonGlobe.com, 7 Sep. 2021 Four others are being treated for non-life threatening injuries at two hospitals -- one in Warner Robins and the other in Macon, police said. Gregory Lemos, CNN, 5 Sep. 2021 One woman is in critical condition, the other is seriously injured and the third is being treated for non-life threatening injuries, Adams said. Taylor Deville, baltimoresun.com, 4 Sep. 2021 One worker was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. William Thornton | Wthornton@al.com, al, 2 Sep. 2021 The officer was treated for non-life threatening injuries, police said. Washington Post, 29 Aug. 2021 Two Hammond Central High School students sustained non-life threatening injuries during a shooting Friday afternoon involving other Hammond Central students. Post-tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, 27 Aug. 2021 Executive order requires all non-life-sustaining businesses close to in-person traffic. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, 7 Aug. 2021 The challenge centered on Democratic Governor Tom Wolf’s March 19 order closing all non-life-sustaining businesses to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Greg Stohr, Bloomberg.com, 5 Oct. 2020

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.

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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

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Learn More About life

Time Traveler for life

Time Traveler

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

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Dictionary Entries Near life

Lifar

life

life's ambition

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Statistics for life

Last Updated

20 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Life.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/life. Accessed 20 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for 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 life (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 life (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on life

Nglish: Translation of life for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of life for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about life

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