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

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 In the case of the McDonnell Douglas Corp. DC-10, those defects dogged the aircraft’s reputation throughout its life. Washington Post, "After Ethiopian Air Crash, 737 Max May Face Global Grounding," 18 Sep. 2019 Remember, creator David Shore said season 3 was all about exploring Shaun’s love life. Chancellor Agard, EW.com, "Shaun tries to tell a joke on his date with Carly in exclusive The Good Doctor clip," 17 Sep. 2019 In July, Musk asked the head of his family office, Jared Birchall, to retain a private investigator to dig into Unsworth's personal life. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Musk spent $50,000 digging into critic’s personal life," 17 Sep. 2019 Cook’s departure from the 8th Congressional District will mark the latest in a series of other House Republican retirements as the lawmakers have had to confront life in the minority. Los Angeles Times, "California Republican Rep. Paul Cook to retire from Congress, run for county supervisor seat," 17 Sep. 2019 Menker said Gro's platform is especially useful given how much agriculture is present throughout daily life. Aric Jenkins, Fortune, "How Artificial Intelligence Can Help Feed the World," 17 Sep. 2019 In her clinic, she's helped treat patients whose lives are falling apart, all because of vaping. NBC News, "Vaping 101: What to know about e-cigs, addiction and illnesses," 17 Sep. 2019 Most were convicted of murder or attempted murder; seven had been serving life terms with no chance of parole. Fox News, "Freshman Democratic governor commutes sentences for 21 inmates in California," 17 Sep. 2019 Enlisting a noted fiction writer to tell his life story might strike casual observers as odd, but Snowden and Cohen are both obsessed with the ways in which tech has transformed self and society. Adam Weinstein, The New Republic, "Edward Snowden’s Novel Makeover," 17 Sep. 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.

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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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Time Traveler for life

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for life

Cite this Entry

“Life.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/life?pronunciation&lang=en_us&dir=l&file=life0001. Accessed 14 December 2019.

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More Definitions for life

life

noun
How to pronounce life (audio)

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

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.

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on life

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for life

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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

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