Definition of life in English:

life

Line breaks: life
Pronunciation: /lʌɪf
 
/

noun (plural lives /lʌɪvz/)

1 [mass noun] The condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death: the origins of life cats require visual experience during the first few weeks of life
More example sentences
  • The dark green color was chosen because it represents life, nature, growth, and ecology.
  • As blood is pumped around the body, it carries oxygen and nutrients that are essential for life.
  • For life to evolve, simple molecules have to combine to form more complex ones.
Synonyms
existence, being, living, animation, aliveness, animateness; entity, sentience, creation, survival, viability
rare esse
1.1Living things and their activity: lower forms of life the ice-cream vendors were the only signs of life the valley is teeming with bird life
More example sentences
  • The hedge is teeming with wild bird life and just now, at the height of the nesting season, a model of industry.
  • As they entered, they walked through a hallway and into the living room in search of a sign of life.
  • The tide was way out and most of the bird life was as well, but I was happy to wait and see how the rising tide would affect them.
Synonyms
living things, living beings, living creatures, the living; human/animal/plant life, fauna, flora, ecosystems, creatures, wildlife; human beings, humanity, humankind, mankind, man, human activity
literary flesh
2The existence of an individual human being or animal: a disaster that claimed the lives of 266 people [mass noun]: she didn’t want to die; she loved life
More example sentences
  • Those of us who presume to speak for the lives of individual animals need to observe our subjects very carefully indeed.
  • One of the defining evils of terrorism is that it uses human beings' lives to send a political message.
  • So he owes us an explanation why only the lives of human beings are sacred.
Synonyms
2.1 [with adjective or noun modifier] A particular type or aspect of human existence: his father decided to start a new life in California [mass noun]: a teacher will help you settle into school life revelations about his private life
More example sentences
  • Their polytheistic view influenced every aspect of their daily lives.
  • Much progress have been achieved in all aspects of their daily lives.
  • Have we forgotten that interaction and association are important factors in the social lives of humans?
Synonyms
way of life, way of living, manner of living, lifestyle, situation, position, state, station, condition, set of circumstances, fate, lot; sphere, field, line, career, business
2.2A biography: a life of Shelley
More example sentences
  • He also began work on his life of 17th century biographer and antiquarian John Aubrey.
  • There were various poems, legends, saint's lives, chronicles and similar literature.
Synonyms
biography, autobiography, life story, life history, memoir, history, profile; diary, journal, confessions; record, chronicle, account, report, portrayal, depiction, portrait
informal biog, bio
2.3(In Christianity and some other religious traditions) either of the two states of a person’s existence separated by death: he departed this life on 28 March 1912
More example sentences
  • Since then, life after death as well as death between lives has been a fact for me, not just a belief.
  • Either God is there or he isn't; either there is a life after death or there is not.
  • Well sorry to tell you but if there is a life after death and you get there and don't like it then too bad.
2.4(In Hinduism and some other religious traditions) any of a number of successive existences in which a soul is held to be reincarnated: a spiritual pilgrimage into her past lives
More example sentences
  • It is only the rarest few who have come to earn this privilege in past lives.
  • He called the earth to witness his many good deeds of past lives and so justified his seat in that place.
  • Alleged memories of past lives are usually obtained by a procedure called hypnotic regression.
2.5A chance to live after narrowly escaping death (with reference to the nine lives traditionally attributed to cats): we were called to the hospital, but the old rogue had nine lives and seemed to be negotiating for another two
More example sentences
  • A cat has to catch and kill only one rabies infected mouse and it too will be dead and buried long before it lives out its nine lives.
  • To this day he is living not only as someone with nine lives, but he is living the life of a new man.
  • Ross the cat is looking for a new home before Christmas where he can retire and live out the rest of his nine lives.
2.6(In various games) one of a specified number of chances each player has before being put out.
More example sentences
  • When a player has lost ten lives, she buys a round of drinks, the score is wiped clean and the next rubber starts.
  • A player must hit his double to become a killer and can then start the business of taking lives from other players by scoring in their double.
  • These players keep their last lives and another deal is played between them.
3 (usually one's life) The period between the birth and death of a living thing, especially a human being: she has lived all her life in the country they became friends for life
More example sentences
  • Some priests and priestesses served for life, others for a set period, usually a year.
  • There is no job for life - only a life of worry about how to make ends meet and whether your pension will last as long as you.
  • On the physical level, a car crash which brings you close to the point of death may leave you paralysed for life.
Synonyms
lifetime, life span, days, duration of life, allotted span, course of life, time on earth, existence, one's time, one's career, threescore years and ten, this mortal coil
informal one's born days
3.1The period during which something inanimate or abstract continues to exist, function, or be valid: underlay helps to prolong the life of a carpet
More example sentences
  • Meanwhile new moments in the life of the nation continue to inspire songs.
  • This refers to the life of the machine and cannot be transferred to the next one you purchase.
  • The lids seal tight, prolonging the shelf life of the contents.
Synonyms
duration, active life, lifetime, existence, functioning period, period of effectiveness, period of usefulness, validity, efficacy
3.2 [mass noun] informal A sentence of imprisonment for life.
More example sentences
  • He was sentenced to life and is currently in Wakefield top security prison.
  • In England and Wales the same offence is treated as rape where the maximum sentence can be life.
  • He was sentenced to life in December last year for the murders of the girls.
4Vitality, vigour, or energy: she was beautiful and full of life
More example sentences
  • The juxtaposition of my somewhat flatly morbid work with the life and vitality of the farm is quite provoking.
  • The two of them together are a dynamic team, full of energy, life and very headstrong.
  • They were full of energy and life and argued their convictions against the war convincingly.
Synonyms
vivacity, animation, liveliness, vitality, verve, high spirits, sparkle, exuberance, zest, buoyancy, effervescence, enthusiasm, energy, vigour, dynamism, go, elan, gusto, brio, bounce, spirit, spiritedness, activity, fire, panache, colour, dash, drive, push; business, bustle, hustle and bustle, movement, stirmoving spirit, moving force, animating spirit, vital spirit, spirit, vital spark, life force, lifeblood, essence, core, heart, soul, strength, quintessence, substance; Frenchélan vital
5 [mass noun] (In art) the depiction of a subject from a real model, rather than from an artist’s imagination: the pose and clothing were sketched from life See also still life.
More example sentences
  • It took him a mere two hours to sculpt his subject from life in wax before going on to mould the likeness in his unique paste.
  • The large back room features portraits drawn from life - the actual rather than the ideal.
  • As a result it became a real practical proposition to use the apparatus for making drawings from life.

Origin

Old English līf, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lijf, German Leib 'body', also to live1.

Phrases

come (or bring someone) to life

Regain or cause to regain consciousness: all this was of great interest to her, as if she were coming to life after a long sleep
More example sentences
  • He died and came to life again and hence conquered death.
(With reference to a fictional character or inanimate object) cause or seem to be alive or real: he brings the character of MacDonald to life with power and precision
More example sentences
  • Children relate to puppets from their earliest years as they are used to making inanimate characters come to life.
  • Even better were the real life characters brought to life by the cast of players who were involved every week.
  • He had a supernatural presence, almost like a fictional character come to life.
Make or become active, lively, or interesting: soon, with the return of the fishermen, the village comes to life again bring any room to life with these coordinating cushions
More example sentences
  • It never ceased to amaze him how she could make a long reading assignment come to life and be interesting.
  • The village of Gorthganny came to life with the sound of traditional music, song & dance recently.
  • Houses have stories to tell, and it's only in the hands of a good guide that the anecdote-laden rooms truly come to life.
Synonyms
become active, become lively, come alive, wake up, awaken, waken, show signs of life, arouse, rouse, stir, emerge

do anything for a quiet life

Make any concession to avoid being disturbed.
More example sentences
  • The amount I donate is pathetically little compared to how much I spend on books, but there you are - we've already established I do anything for a quiet life.
  • But you get the feeling he'll do anything for a quiet life.
  • I will normally do anything for a quiet life but on this occasion I couldn't.

for dear (or one's) life

As if or in order to escape death: I clung on to the tree for dear life Sue ran for her life
More example sentences
  • After he had been interrogated, and fearing for his life, he escaped through a police station window.
  • Decaying gangs of the shambling undead fire out words and phrases at you, and you have to hammer them back, quickly, accurately, desperately, typing for your life.
  • I spent days three and four fighting for my life, desperate to gain the trust of my opponents.
Synonyms
desperately, with all one's might, with might and main, urgently, with urgency, vigorously, with as much vigour as possible, for all one is worth, as fast/hard as possible, like the devil

for the life of me

[with modal and negative] informal However hard I try; even if my life depended on it: I can’t for the life of me understand what you see in her
More example sentences
  • They came flat, encased between two pieces of hard clear plastic, which I could not open for the life of me.
  • I cannot, for the life of me, understand why this book has made me dwell on my lack of friendships this evening.
  • I could not, for the life of me, find my wedge of Parmesan cheese.

frighten the life out of

Terrify: what do you mean by frightening the life out of me?
More example sentences
  • So it was that in 1394 the young king landed at Waterford and, like others in later times, decided that he would adopt a strategy of ‘shock and awe’ that would frighten the life out of the Irish.
  • He said: ‘It frightens the life out of you, something like this.’
  • Say we didn't pick up on something and there was an accident, we would be the ones liable and that frightens the life out of me.

get a life

[often in imperative] informal Start living a fuller existence: if he’s a waster then get yourself out of there and get a life
More example sentences
  • Most of us must make a fateful choice: should we devote our time and talent to making a living - or to getting a life?
  • But with both the league, union and rules seasons about to start, it really is time certain rugby union types got a life and focused on the challenges and problems facing their own code and leave rugby league to our own!
  • Now it's about time that these guys got a life and came out of the dark ages - they're living in the Civil War era!

give one's life for

Die for: he’s devoted to the royal family and would give his life for them
More example sentences
  • There is nothing worth giving your life for, it's all about survival.
  • I think you aren't wholly alive until you know what you would be willing to give your life for.
  • Perhaps one of the things war monuments and graves do is to make you reflect on whether you would have the mettle to give your life for what you felt was right.
Synonyms
die, lay down one's life, sacrifice oneself; die to save, offer one's life, surrender one's life

(as) large as life

informal Used to emphasize that a person is conspicuously present: he was standing nearby, large as life
More example sentences
  • In their original testimony, they claimed to have been working when he wandered in, large as life, in the company of a man resembling the person described by her as their attacker.
  • But when they lined up for the team picture before their Champions League semi-final, there he was, large as life, and preserved for posterity.
  • I doubt that you would sanction drinking and gambling on such a scale, but there you are as large as life, directly above the club's reception desk.

larger than life

(Of a person) attracting special attention because of unusual and flamboyant appearance or behaviour: he was a larger-than-life character on and off the pitch
More example sentences
  • The larger than life owner attracted some of the biggest acts of the 60s and 70s to a grateful Leigh, as well as raising thousands of pounds for local charities.
  • He is a colourful character, larger than life, fun, friendly and always joking.
  • He was a larger than life character - jovial, outgoing, hugely personable.

life and limb

see limb1.

the life and soul of the party (US the life of the party)

A vivacious and sociable person: William was infinitely preferable when he was being the life and soul of the party
More example sentences
  • Described as vivacious and the life and soul of the party, she was never short of an invitation to a charity gala on South Africa's high society circuit.
  • Three days before her death, we held our annual Happy Halloween party, and she was the life of the party.
  • He's not the life of the party, but he's the guy talking about the life of the party, or making fun of the life of the party.

life in the fast lane

see fast lane.
More example sentences
  • Maybe it's the California lifestyle - life in the fast lane.
  • Her brother Steve said: ‘Despite her health problems she lived her life in the fast lane and was always laughing.’
  • Yet despite the sub-zero temperatures and heavy, leaded skies almost touching the land, I reflected that Norfolk offered a meaningful and quite spiritual respite from life in the fast lane.

one's life's work

The work (especially that of an academic or artistic nature) accomplished in or pursued throughout someone’s lifetime: a major exhibition of his life’s work
More example sentences
  • The son seems to have made posturing against his father's accomplishments and beliefs his life's work.
  • Some people, when they're told they have terminal illnesses, start planning for after life: writing memoirs, completing their life's work, sorting through their photo albums or whatever.
  • Like the swarms of people who flock to Web sites devoted to the study of genealogy, company owners who fall into their life's work through happenstance or inheritance may feel rootless, even disaffected.

lose one's life

Be killed: he lost his life in a car accident
More example sentences
  • The man who killed him also lost his life, but it was generally agreed that the sacrifice was worth it.
  • Luckily this time no-one lost their life, but 11 people have been killed in 70 days of chaos on our roads, and police are predicting more carnage in the summer months ahead.
  • The deceased lorry driver lost his life when he was forced to swerve his vehicle in an effort to avoid a small boy and drove into a lamp post.

a matter of life and death

A matter of vital importance: she would not go out on the Sabbath unless it was a matter of life and death
More example sentences
  • It is a truth barely appreciated that government not only matters, but it is a matter of life and death that the right people run it.
  • Yet as well as turning York into one big traffic jam, these roadworks are also making life even more difficult for ambulance drivers, whose journeys are essential and can be a matter of life and death.
  • However, for people who need vital organs replaced, the deficiencies of artificial substitutes are a matter of life and death.

not on your life

informal Said to emphasize one’s refusal to comply with a request: ‘I want to see Clare alone.’ ‘Not on your life,’ said Buzz
More example sentences
  • M. thinks it's awful and wanted to get in here and paint everything white and put down carpet and I told her not on your life, this room is mine.
  • Mac smiled: ‘Speaking for myself, I'd say ‘not on your life.’
  • It will continue to happen but as for just a stunt, not on your life Robyn.

save someone's (or one's own) life

Prevent someone’s (or one’s own) death: the driver of the train managed to save his life by leaping out of the cab
More example sentences
  • He was only going to surrender under the threat of death to save his own life.
  • If he decided to jump off the train and saved his own life, he could do so without injury.
  • He blamed himself for saving his own life instead of returning to the burning buildings to help others.
informal Provide much-needed relief from boredom or a difficult situation: Rosalind kissed her. ‘Oh you darling! You’ve saved my life! I’ve been so miserable’

see life

Gain a wide experience of the world: playwrights are too busy writing plays to see life
More example sentences
  • But if you want to see life as it is and travel and meet other people, buy a motorhome, Ron said.
  • The camp activities not only brought these children from such diverse places but also gave them an opportunity to see life in the raw.
  • And - and to me, here was a chance to jump off that kind of wagon and see life for real.

take one's life in one's hands

Risk being killed: with more cars around than ever, you take your life in your hands just crossing the road
More example sentences
  • I also took my life in my hands by visiting a Kurdish barber.
  • Yesterday I took my life in my hands and cleared out my garage.
  • Today I took my life in my hands and spent it in the company of many three-year-olds!

take someone's (or one's own) life

Kill someone (or oneself).
More example sentences
  • Well I almost robbed a bank and in the process my brother was killed and I took a man's life.
  • It brought it back, a lot of painful memories but it helped me to, you know, put a face to the person that killed my sister, and almost took my life, and it just it was helpful.
  • The coroner recorded verdicts that the boys were unlawfully killed and their father took his own life.

that's life

An expression of one’s acceptance of a situation, however difficult: we’ll miss each other, but still, that’s life
More example sentences
  • It has been pretty difficult, but that's life, isn't it?
  • My close friends have been very supportive of my modelling, but some of them have been difficult, but I guess that's life.
  • One approach is to accept that that's life, and people have to make choices for themselves and their kids.
Synonyms
the way of the world, the world, the way things go, the way of it, the human condition, the times we live in, the usual state of affairs, the school of hard knocks; fate, destiny, providence, kismet, karma, fortune, luck, chance
North American informal the way the cookie crumbles

this is the life

An expression of contentment with one’s present circumstances: Ice cubes clinked in crystal glasses. ‘This is the life,’ she said
More example sentences
  • After I directed, when I went back to being an actor, I was like, ‘God, this is the life!’
  • I'm not sure many of the holidaymakers here were too happy when 20-odd footballers all barged into the hotel reception but, you have to say, this is the life!
  • Bronzed bodies and muscles, ah yes this is the life and I am enjoying every minute of it.

to the life

Exactly like the original: there he was, Nathan to the life, sitting at a table

to save one's life

[with modal and negative] Even if one’s life were to depend on it: she couldn’t stop crying now to save her life

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