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 Ohio Department of Medicaid plans to extend coverage of women who have delivered babies from 60 days to 12 months for the next five years, with hopes to reduce the state’s maternal mortality levels. cleveland, 7 Oct. 2021 Prior to that, maternal mortality was decreasing in the country. Mariana Lenharo, Scientific American, 5 Oct. 2021 Further, there is often no cross-checking of the certificates once they have been completed, something that has caused severe data shortages in other areas of public health as well, such as maternal mortality. Annalisa Merelli, Quartz, 30 Sep. 2021 The maternal mortality crisis poses an even greater risk to Black lives. Christine Grimaldi, SELF, 10 Sep. 2021 This is especially horrific given the severe maternal mortality crisis in Texas that has impacted Black women the most. Belynn Hollers, Dallas News, 2 Sep. 2021 Passing this piece of legislation, as well as the entire Momnibus act, could help ease the maternal mortality crisis and address the serious impacts of climate change on mothers and babies of color. Emily Mediate, STAT, 1 Sep. 2021 Disparities in Black maternal mortality persist regardless of income or socioeconomic achievement. Priya Krishnakumar, CNN, 25 Aug. 2021 In Milwaukee and the U.S., infant mortality is most acute in African-American communities. John Schmid, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 24 Aug. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near mortality



mortality rate

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Statistics for mortality

Last Updated

12 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Mortality.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for mortality



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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