variants or less commonly life-or-death
: involving or culminating in life or death : vitally important as if involving life or death

Examples of life-and-death in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Between the frigid cold and circling wolves below, the trio make life-and-death decisions to survive. Keith Langston, Peoplemag, 24 Nov. 2023 That was a life-and-death matter during the Cedar fire. Gary Robbins, San Diego Union-Tribune, 22 Oct. 2023 The eye-popping figure reflects both the high cost of litigation and the fact the crypto world is in a life-and-death struggle with the SEC, whose chairman has adopted a relentlessly hostile posture towards the industry. Jeff John Roberts, Fortune Crypto, 21 Sep. 2023 Then, the staff got to work picking the ones that best encapsulated the uncertainty and life-and-death feelings of that moment. Erik Ortiz, NBC News, 30 Aug. 2023 The mentality of enmity can poison a nation’s spirit, instigate brutal life-and-death struggles, destroy a society’s tolerance and humanity, and block a nation’s progress to freedom and democracy. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, 17 July 2023 Everything Went Fine François Ozon salutes the nuclear family in a life-and-death crisis that also honors the individuality of a father and his daughter (André Dussollier, Sophie Marceau), who are superficially at odds. Armond White, National Review, 7 July 2023 What is certain, however, is that the Middle colonies and South Carolina were left with a life-and-death decision to make. Time, 3 July 2023 Game controllers have been used in life-and-death situations in combat, and likely will continue to be used in those scenarios for the foreseeable future. Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics, 22 June 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'life-and-death.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

1804, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of life-and-death was in 1804

Dictionary Entries Near life-and-death

Cite this Entry

“Life-and-death.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: ending in life or death : deciding which will survive
a life-and-death struggle

More from Merriam-Webster on life-and-death

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