lif·​er | \ ˈlī-fər How to pronounce lifer (audio) \

Definition of lifer

1 : a person sentenced to imprisonment for life
2 : a person who makes a career of one of the armed forces
3 : a person who has made a lifelong commitment (as to a way of life)

Examples of lifer in a Sentence

He was a lifer at the factory.
Recent Examples on the Web The stalwart candidate was Harvey Schwartz, a Goldman lifer and karate black belt who helped guide the bank through the financial crisis and was considered the stronger bet for managing risk and regulation. Sam Walker, WSJ, "Two Princes: Would You Rather Work for William or Harry?," 24 Jan. 2020 Why, critics wanted to know, had concerns that Vioxx might be riskier than other painkillers lingered until Merck took such a big, dramatic step?Gilmartin resigned that May, and was replaced by Richard Clark, a Merck lifer. Matthew Herper, STAT, "The ghosts of JPMs past: How 20 years of deals, scandal, and science have shaped health care," 9 Jan. 2020 Now he’ll be sandwiched between rookie manager Gabe Kapler and first base coach Ron Wotus, a Giants lifer. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "MLB's most important moves off the field: 14 hires reshaping the league's brainpower balance," 12 Dec. 2019 The Knicks’ president, Steve Mills, has survived many such purges, a bureaucratic lifer who could have survived the 1930s Kremlin. Michael Powell, New York Times, "The Knicks Fired Their Coach. He Isn’t the Guy Who Needs to Go.," 6 Dec. 2019 Hogan has commuted the sentences of four juveniles and 17 adults as of last month, and has approved parole for eight adult and three juvenile lifers. Hannah Gaskill,, "Larry Hogan grants parole to juvenile lifers, the first time a Maryland governor has done so in decades," 23 Nov. 2019 However, hiring an outsider would have been better still for tackling such a profound question; Jope is a Unilever lifer. Washington Post, "Unilever Chairman Leaves $162 Billion Role to Run $85 Million Fund," 13 Nov. 2019 The screenplay co-credits Leigh Brackett, a sci-fi pulp lifer who co-wrote Howard Hawks classics. Darren Franich,, "Star Wars rewatch: The Empire Strikes Back is the special effects movie that hates special effects," 30 Oct. 2019 According to the Vera Institute for Justice, the success rate for lifers appearing before the board in the past three years has been thirty-six per cent. Jennifer Gonnerman, The New Yorker, "Prepping for Parole," 25 Nov. 2019

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

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of lifer was in 1827

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Statistics for lifer

Last Updated

6 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Lifer.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce lifer (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of lifer

US : a person who spends an entire career in the same job
: a criminal who has been sentenced to spend the rest of his or her life in prison

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