mor·​tal·​i·​ty | \ mȯr-ˈta-lə-tē How to pronounce mortality (audio) \

Definition of mortality

1 : the quality or state of being mortal Her husband's death reminded her of her own mortality.
2 : the death of large numbers (as of people or animals) trying to reduce infant mortality
3 archaic : death
4 : the human race that natural extinction to which all mortality is subject— Thomas Paine
5a : the number of deaths in a population during a given time or place : the proportion of deaths to population : mortality rate The mortality among the infected mounted daily.
b : the number lost or the rate of loss or failure the mortality rate of small businesses

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Thoughts on Mortality

Young people tend to assume they will never die, but a person's sense of his or her mortality generally increases year by year, and often increases greatly after a serious accident or illness. Still, many people refuse to change behaviors that would improve their chances of living into old age. Mortality rates are calculated by government agencies, insurance companies, and medical researchers. Infant mortality rates (the rate at which infants die in childbirth) provide a good indicator of a country's overall health; in recent years, the rates in countries like Iceland, Singapore, and Japan have been much better than in the U.S.

Examples of mortality in a Sentence

a leading cause of mortality
Recent Examples on the Web The health officer points out that there has been no decrease in the number of new cases daily and that the mortality, in view of the number of cases is high, being almost 5 percent. San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: Parallels to the 1918 flu pandemic are evident 102 years later," 19 Oct. 2020 The county has recorded 5,223 cases of COVID-19 to date, with a mortality rate of 1.9%. Rachel Alexander, oregonlive, "Salem doctor says after 100 deaths in Marion County COVID-19 remains unpredictable," 17 Oct. 2020 Nationally, jails and prisons have seen disproportionate rates of infection and death, with a mortality rate twice as high as in the general population and an infection rate more than four times as high, according to recent data. New York Times, "‘I Just Kind of Lost It’: As Coronavirus Cases Soar, One Montana Town Reels," 16 Oct. 2020 Research on the global burden of disease finds that annual mortality caused by infectious diseases – most of which occurs in the developing world – is nearly one-third of all deaths globally. Nükhet Varlik, The Conversation, "How do pandemics end? History suggests diseases fade but are almost never truly gone," 14 Oct. 2020 Additionally, mortality was significantly higher in cirrhosis patients with COVID-19 than those hospitalized for bacterial infections. Sara Kiley Watson, Popular Science, "All the conditions we know increase your risk of dying from COVID-19," 2 Oct. 2020 Even in countries with sophisticated health systems, mortality is difficult to accurately gauge. Lisa Du,, "As Covid Deaths Hit 1 Million, Scientist Says Toll May be Double," 24 Sep. 2020 Fewer cases in France are requiring hospitalization than in the spring, and mortality is nowhere near the spring peak. Washington Post, "Students in France return to schools, even as covid-19 cases soar," 1 Sep. 2020 In those treated late, mortality between groups was comparable. Michael S. Kinch, Scientific American, "How Politics Muddied the Waters on a Promising COVID-19 Treatment," 25 Aug. 2020

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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Time Traveler for mortality

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The first known use of mortality was in the 15th century

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Statistics for mortality

Last Updated

23 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Mortality.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for mortality


How to pronounce mortality (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of mortality

: the quality or state of being a person or thing that is alive and therefore certain to die : the quality or state of being mortal
: the death of a person, animal, etc.
: the number of deaths that occur in a particular time or place


mor·​tal·​i·​ty | \ mȯr-ˈtal-ət-ē How to pronounce mortality (audio) \
plural mortalities

Medical Definition of mortality

1 : the quality or state of being mortal
2 : the number of deaths in a population during a given time or place : the proportion of deaths to population : mortality rate — compare morbidity sense 2

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