life·​line | \ ˈlīf-ˌlīn How to pronounce lifeline (audio) \

Definition of lifeline

1 : a line (such as a rope) used for saving or preserving life: such as
a : a line along the outer edge of the deck of a boat or ship
b : a line used to keep contact with a person (such as a diver or astronaut) in a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation
2 : something regarded as indispensable for the maintaining or protection of life

Examples of lifeline in a Sentence

The river is the town's lifeline. The new jobs were an economic lifeline for a city in need of help. The radio was their lifeline to the outside world. They threw a lifeline to the man overboard.
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Recent Examples on the Web Visitors have been one way for Beijing, which does not want its Communist neighbor to collapse, to extend a lifeline. New York Times, "North Korea Touts New Resort, Seeking to Blunt U.N. Sanctions," 3 Dec. 2019 But new geological evidence uncovered by scientists at McGill University in Montreal has found that glacial meltwater provided a crucial lifeline at the time tomicroscopic organisms known as eukaryotes. Katie Hunt, CNN, "How life survived Snowball Earth, the planet's most severe ice age," 3 Dec. 2019 Egypt fears Ethiopia’s $5 billion project could reduce its share of the Nile, a lifeline for Egypt’s 100 million people., "News of the Day From Around the World, Dec. 2," 2 Dec. 2019 Williams’ wife, Briana, was at Lucas Oil Stadium, a lifeline for two women desperate for some video; Briana kept texts coming, sent videos on Snapchat of Williams ripping apart the Jaguars. Joel A. Erickson, Indianapolis Star, "5 years of waiting, Colts RB Jonathan Williams gets chance to show what he can do," 29 Nov. 2019 Maidl's lifeline is his service dog, Bannar, named for a close friend who served with him and died in action. CBS News, ""We, the People": Mary Whyte's portraits of 50 veterans from 50 states," 10 Nov. 2019 Outside guidance can be a lifeline when we get lost during this existential search. Carolyn Hax, Detroit Free Press, "Let daughter adapt to college on her own," 30 Oct. 2019 Flores also asked why he hadn’t been referred to resources like SAAF, which became a lifeline for him during his recovery. San Antonio Express-News, "HIV services in San Antonio," 24 Oct. 2019 But unlike the Ohio factory, the Detroit-area plant will get a lifeline in the form of a pledge by GM to build electric trucks and SUVs there under the new contract. Los Angeles Times, "GM strike’s fate hinges on a few factories’ workers," 23 Oct. 2019

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

1700, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for lifeline

Time Traveler

The first known use of lifeline was in 1700

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Statistics for lifeline

Last Updated

8 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Lifeline.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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More Definitions for lifeline


How to pronounce lifeline (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lifeline

: something which provides help or support that is needed for success or survival
: a rope used for saving the life of someone (such as someone who has fallen into water)

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More from Merriam-Webster on lifeline

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lifeline

Spanish Central: Translation of lifeline

Nglish: Translation of lifeline for Spanish Speakers

Comments on lifeline

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


heavy with or as if with moisture

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