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

In California, the release of lifers has increased dramatically in the past ten years, and many older, long-serving prisoners are being set free. Kenneth E. Hartman, Harper's magazine, "Life after Life," 16 Sep. 2019 Bert Bell, who saved a fledgling league from devouring itself, was a football lifer. The Si Staff,, "100 Figures Who Shaped the NFL’s First Century," 28 Aug. 2019 Mike Gundy appears to be an Oklahoma State lifer at this point, but that hasn’t kept at least one SEC school from inquiring about his availability on multiple occasions. Creg Stephenson |, al, "Mike Gundy says he’s turned down Tennessee job 3 times, his team would have beaten LSU in 2011," 14 Aug. 2019 But fans will have to jump through a few spaghetti hoops for the privilege of being a pasta-pass lifer. Kate Bowers, Fortune, "Olive Garden Carbo-Loads Its Popular Pasta Promotion," 13 Aug. 2019 The wiry Mr Flint, by contrast, completes triathlons and was an HSBC lifer, joining from university in 1989. The Economist, "The surprising departure of HSBC’s chief executive," 8 Aug. 2019 Downe is the kind of rock lifer able to wade through grunge-era backlash and decades of plutonium-level partying and live to tell. Matt Wake |,, "An ’80s glam-metal survivor tells all," 9 July 2019 And another juvenile lifer, Jorge Cintron Jr., was resentenced to 30 years to life for three murders; he could be released by age 47. Samantha Melamed,, "Why are juvenile lifers from Philly getting radically different sentences than those in the rest of Pennsylvania?," 10 July 2018 So, what should pro-lifers do with all this information? David French, National Review, "In a Post-Roe World, Pro-Lifers Would Still Have a Lot of Work Left to Do," 19 July 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.

See More

First Known Use of lifer

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about lifer

Statistics for lifer

Last Updated

2 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for lifer

The first known use of lifer was in 1827

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for lifer



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

More from Merriam-Webster on lifer

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with lifer

Comments on lifer

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


suitable to be imparted to the public

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!