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 Atlas stressed that for people outside of high-risk categories, the virus has a high survival rate. Michael Lee, Washington Examiner, "Scott Atlas slams public health experts for continuing to invoke pandemic fear: 'This is not the bubonic plague'," 24 Feb. 2021 The five-year survival rate for those diagnoses is 10%. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "Ancient life on Mars? We'll find out soon," 18 Feb. 2021 Even as the number of cases and deaths have surged around the country, the survival rate of those who are infected has improved significantly. New York Times, "How the Search for Covid-19 Treatments Faltered While Vaccines Sped Ahead," 30 Jan. 2021 Even as the number of cases and deaths has surged around the country, the survival rate of those who are infected has improved significantly. Carl Zimmer,, "How the search for COVID-19 treatments faltered while vaccines sped ahead," 30 Jan. 2021 On Hallasan Mountain, the trees at 5,000 feet have an 18 percent higher survival rate than those at 5,550 feet, where half of the trees have died. Environment, "Climate troubles loom for South Korea’s ‘Christmas Tree Island’," 24 Dec. 2020 Barnes said Audubon has seen how just a few feet of additional elevation can make a significant difference in a colony's survival rate should a hurricane arrive during nesting season. Halle Parker | Staff Writer,, "The first sand is being pumped on North Breton Island, a 'vital' barrier island for birds," 22 Dec. 2020 There is a sharp age gradient in the survival rate after infection. Sunetra Gupta, WSJ, "How to End Lockdowns Next Month," 17 Dec. 2020 This belief conflates two numbers: the survival rate of those who contract the virus, which is about 99%, and the roughly 95% efficacy rate of the vaccines under consideration in the U.S. John Keilman,, "No, COVID-19 vaccines don’t contain Satan’s microchips (and other scary conspiracy theories aren’t true, either)," 15 Dec. 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

3 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Survival.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2021.

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More Definitions for survival



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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