noun, often attributive
sur·​viv·​al | \ sər-ˈvī-vəl How to pronounce survival (audio) \

Definition of survival

1a : the act or fact of living or continuing longer than another person or thing
b : the continuation of life or existence problems of survival in arctic conditions
2 : one that survives

Examples of survival in a Sentence

The refugees depend on foreign aid for their survival. Small businesses are fighting for survival. the survival of an old folktale
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Recent Examples on the Web The team calculated the fall in survival rates during a gap between the 20th- and 21st-century population data sets–and the results aren’t too optimistic. Molly Glick, Popular Science, "Humans need bumble bees—and they are disappearing faster than we thought," 7 Feb. 2020 Poor quality or insufficient sea ice could reduce survival rates. Author: Simon Denyer, Anchorage Daily News, "Receding sea ice off northern Japan proves blessing and potential curse for seals," 2 Feb. 2020 The five-year overall cancer survival rate is up from 50 percent in 1975 to 67 percent today. Jacqueline Detwiler, Popular Mechanics, "Health," 1 Feb. 2020 But the survival rate drops considerably with each increase in speed above that. Tribune News Service, oregonlive, "California bike fatalities hit 25-year high, cell phones & SUVs cited as factors," 30 Jan. 2020 While two other drugs ultimately outperformed remdesivir in a randomized control trial the antiviral was shown to boost Ebola survival rates. Jamie Ducharme, Time, "The Wuhan Coronavirus Is Spreading Fast. Will Doctors Be Able to Find a Treatment Before the Outbreak Ends?," 22 Jan. 2020 The team then exposed each pool of barcoded cells to a single compound from the collection, and measured the survival rate of the cancer cells. Jonathan Saltzman,, "Could a drug for arthritis in dogs also fight cancer in people?," 20 Jan. 2020 But new research reveals something unsettling: Water bears may be able to survive short spurts of extreme temperature, but their survival rate drops significantly when exposed for longer spells. Alex Baker-whitcomb, Wired, "A Smart Contact Lens, Trouble for Water Bears, and More News," 16 Jan. 2020 For example, when an ocean heat wave struck the waters of Western Australia in 2011, scientists noticed there were fewer dolphin births and the animal's survival rate dropped. Ivana Kottasová, CNN, "Oceans are warming at the same rate as if five Hiroshima bombs were dropped in every second," 13 Jan. 2020

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

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Time Traveler for survival

Time Traveler

The first known use of survival was in 1598

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Statistics for survival

Last Updated

21 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Survival.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Feb. 2020.

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How to pronounce survival (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of survival

: the state or fact of continuing to live or exist especially in spite of difficult conditions
: something from an earlier period that still exists or is done


sur·​viv·​al | \ sər-ˈvī-vəl How to pronounce survival (audio) \

Kids Definition of survival

: the continuation of life Our survival depended on finding water.

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