life·​line ˈlīf-ˌlīn How to pronounce lifeline (audio)
: a line (such as a rope) used for saving or preserving life: such as
: a line along the outer edge of the deck of a boat or ship
: a line used to keep contact with a person (such as a diver or astronaut) in a dangerous or potentially dangerous situation
: something regarded as indispensable for the maintaining or protection of life

Example Sentences

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Photo: Daniel Brenner/Bloomberg News Dish Network is in talks to sell wireless plans for its nascent mobile phone service through Amazon, according to people familiar with the matter, an arrangement that could give the telecom company’s 5G rollout a critical lifeline. Drew Fitzgerald, WSJ, 25 May 2023 An impromptu street market in a Brooklyn park was a lifeline for immigrants during the pandemic. John Leland Lexi Parra, New York Times, 14 May 2023 Across the country, office-to-housing conversions are being pursued as a potential lifeline for struggling downtown business districts that emptied out during the pandemic and may never fully recover. Mae Anderson,, 24 Apr. 2023 While severing the land bridge is unlikely to happen, these people said, the United States is hopeful that incremental gains could at least threaten the free flow of Russian equipment and personnel in the corridor, which has been a lifeline for invading forces. Alex Horton, John Hudson, Isabelle Khurshudyan And Samuel Oakford, The Washington Post, Anchorage Daily News, 11 Apr. 2023 Cryptocurrency has also come under focus as North Korea has dramatically decreased trade with China, its economic lifeline, while ramping up its missile testing and facing crippling international sanctions — raising questions about how the impoverished country is financing its testing frenzy. Tim Starks, Washington Post, 28 Mar. 2023 So when federal regulators shut down Silicon Valley Bank — the country’s 16th biggest lender — on Friday, some of its clients had few immediate lifelines at their disposal. Brian Cheung, NBC News, 13 Mar. 2023 The Biden administration is approving a major oil project on Alaska's petroleum-rich North Slope that supporters say represents an economic lifeline for Indigenous communities in the region but environmentalists say is counter to President Joe Biden's climate goals. CBS News, 13 Mar. 2023 The biggest lifeline came from the International Monetary Fund. Brian Murphy, Washington Post, 13 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'lifeline.' 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

1700, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of lifeline was in 1700

Dictionary Entries Near lifeline

Cite this Entry

“Lifeline.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


life·​line ˈlī-ˌflīn How to pronounce lifeline (audio)
: a line persons may hang on to for safety or rescue
: something providing help or support that is needed for success or survival

More from Merriam-Webster on lifeline

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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