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



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 Every Major League Baseball stadium on Wednesday will become a living testament to Lou Gehrig and use his memory to raise awareness for the disease that took his life. Ivan Pereira, ABC News, 2 June 2021 And for so many of us Americans, this was just a moment that changed your entire life. CBS News, 2 June 2021 Sawayama, who has been open about her experiences with depression, credits that scene with saving her life. Mitchell Kuga, Billboard, 2 June 2021 Ringer's colleague at Living Room Conversations, Becca Kearl, also found herself using the organization's tips in her personal life during the trauma of 2020. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 2 June 2021 Almost two decades later, that organization might have helped saved his life and ended his 17-month search for a kidney. Mike Preston,, 2 June 2021 Small writes about her art, her life in New Orleans, and coping with cancer. Beth Thames |, al, 2 June 2021 Jane Winchester Paradis, founder of the Jane Win Jewelry line of pendants and charms, based in Wayne, Pa., says too many people focus strictly on their business goals instead of how the company fits into their life. Molly Baker, WSJ, 2 June 2021 In my old life, an average day consisted of somewhere on the order of seven to 10 Zoom meetings. Megan Greenwell, Wired, 2 June 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The victim was taken to a nearby hospital to be treated for minor, non-life threatening injuries. NBC News, 25 May 2021 One person was fatally wounded and two others suffered non-life threatening injuries during a triple shooting late Sunday night in Roxbury, Boston police said., 24 May 2021 The officer was taken to the University of Cincinnati Medical Center with non-life threatening injuries, according to Loudermilk. Fox19, The Enquirer, 21 May 2021 Two victims were pronounced dead at a hospital and three others sustained non-life threatening injuries, police said in a statement. Melissa Alonso, CNN, 8 May 2021 The driver of the truck also was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Emma Austin, The Courier-Journal, 4 May 2021 The victim was transported to the hospital for non-life threatening injuries. Nora Mishanec, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 May 2021 The man was taken to Gettysburg Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Fox News, 4 May 2021 The truck driver was taken to a nearby hospital with minor, non-life threatening injuries. Katie Rice,, 3 May 2021

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


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


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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Time Traveler for life

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for life

Last Updated

4 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Life.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for life



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



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


\ 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


\ 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


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