exist

verb

ex·​ist ig-ˈzist How to pronounce exist (audio)
existed; existing; exists

intransitive verb

1
a
: to have real being whether material or spiritual
did unicorns exist
the largest galaxy known to exist
b
: to have being in a specified place or with respect to understood limitations or conditions
strange ideas existed in his mind
2
: to continue to be
racism still exists in society
3
a
: to have life or the functions of vitality
we cannot exist without oxygen
b
: to live at an inferior level or under adverse circumstances
the hungry existing from day to day

Example Sentences

She believes that ghosts really do exist. It's the largest galaxy known to exist. Does life exist on Mars? The Internet didn't exist then. We shouldn't ignore the problems that exist in our own community. Racism still exists in our society. The organization may soon cease to exist if more funding isn't provided. See More
Recent Examples on the Web The Good News: Don’t be tempted by false promises from those who claim God doesn’t exist. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 10 Nov. 2022 The Astros' dynasty may not exist without Ocampo's contributions. Michael Shapiro, Chron, 8 Nov. 2022 And Stephen Colbert said, What a joke, this guy doesn't exist. Niraj Warikoo, Detroit Free Press, 6 Nov. 2022 There are plenty of women who have their own production companies and are doing their own thing, but this existed within the context of the studio system in a very specific way, and that doesn't exist today. Devan Coggan, EW.com, 2 Nov. 2022 Timoner does not spare us the details, which is a gift in a nation and culture that pretend the dead and the dying do not exist. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 31 Oct. 2022 The school’s newcomer program, which groups older EL students together, didn’t exist when Lopez was a student at Russellville. al, 31 Oct. 2022 But those guardrails won’t necessarily exist under Musk’s leadership. Clare Duffy, CNN, 28 Oct. 2022 The battery technology doesn’t currently exist to power an advanced industrial economy on wind and solar. The Editorial Board, WSJ, 27 Oct. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'exist.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History

Etymology

borrowed from Middle French & Latin; Middle French exister, borrowed from Latin existere, exsistere "to come into view, appear, show oneself, come into being" (Late Latin, "to have real being, be, be present"), from ex- ex- entry 1 + sistere "to cause to stand, assume a standing position, place, check, halt" — more at assist entry 1

First Known Use

circa 1568, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of exist was circa 1568

Dictionary Entries Near exist

Cite this Entry

“Exist.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/exist. Accessed 27 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

exist

verb

ex·​ist ig-ˈzist How to pronounce exist (audio)
1
: to have actual being : be real
do unicorns exist?
2
: to continue to be
as long as doubt exists
3
: to continue to live : stay alive
earned barely enough to exist on

More from Merriam-Webster on exist

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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