There are 2 main definitions of live in English:

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live 1

Pronunciation: /liv/


1 [no object] Remain alive: the doctors said she had only six months to live both cats lived to a ripe age
More example sentences
  • In September 2000, she was diagnosed with bone cancer and given six months to live.
  • He has been given a 20 per cent chance of survival and doctors say he might have three to six months to live.
  • By the following morning doctors had told Lorraine that she had a rare form of cervical cancer and only six months to live.
1.1Be alive at a specified time: he lived four centuries ago
More example sentences
  • My tastes are definitely different from what I would have liked, if I had lived five centuries ago.
  • It's not just about some guy who lived centuries ago.
  • Great oaks and trees that lived centuries ago held their broken branches, still fashioned to the ground by decaying roots.
exist, be alive, be, have life;
breathe, draw breath, walk the earth
1.2Spend one’s life in a particular way or under particular circumstances: people are living in fear in the wake of the shootings [with object]: he was living a life of luxury in Australia
More example sentences
  • He lived well and spent freely, renting flats in Chelsea and Brighton, employing servants, owning race horses and running a Rolls-Royce.
  • Instead of enjoying the fact that we can live comfortably, we spend our time looking to see who is living just that little bit more comfortably than us.
  • I, for one, would not produce a child that would have to live under these circumstances.
pass/spend one's life, have a lifestyle;
behave, conduct oneself
formal comport oneself
experience, spend, pass, lead, have, go through, undergo
1.3Supply oneself with the means of subsistence: they live by hunting and fishing
More example sentences
  • We lived from subsistence farming, growing sweet potatoes, corn, some sugarcane, and ginger.
  • He lived by gambling professionally for over a decade.
  • They live by hunting and gathering.
survive, make a living, earn one's living, eke out a living;
subsist, support oneself, sustain oneself, make ends meet, keep body and soul together
1.4Survive in someone’s mind; be remembered: only the name lived on
More example sentences
  • Songwriter and singer Ollie Cole has an impeccable ear for a good melody and this one lives long in the mind.
  • In any Championship is something that lives forever in the minds and hearts of every one involved.
  • He will live on in our memories.
1.5Have an exciting or fulfilling life: he couldn’t wait to get out of school and really start living
More example sentences
  • Maybe you should start living instead of just watching everyone else.
  • The voice is calling us to leave our foolish fears behind, to take risks, to trust, to begin to really live.
  • Get out there and start living, you never know how much longer it is all going to last.
enjoy oneself, enjoy life, have fun, live life to the full/fullest
2 [no object] Make one’s home in a particular place or with a particular person: I’ve lived in New England all my life they lived with his grandparents
More example sentences
  • He was just a divorced man living alone in a really big house.
  • The lucky ones have grandparents living locally who are willing to help out on a regular basis.
  • Did you or you parents ever live in a house of their own?
reside in, have one's home in, have one's residence in, be settled in;
be housed in, lodge in;
inhabit, occupy, populate
formal dwell in, be domiciled in



as I live and breathe

Used, especially in spoken English, to express one’s surprise at coming across someone or something: good Lord, Jack Stone, as I live and breathe!
More example sentences
  • Dawn Tinsley, as I live and breathe…
  • ‘Well, well,’ she said, ‘Malak Harr, as I live and breathe.’
  • ‘Well, as I live and breathe… if it ain't Hallie Lennox, ‘he said in an unmistakable Savannah drawl.

be living on borrowed time

see borrow.

live and breathe something

Be extremely interested in or enthusiastic about a particular subject or activity and so devote a great deal of one’s time to it: they live and breathe Italy and all things Italian
More example sentences
  • When you're in this business you live and breathe it.
  • When you live and breathe your product, it's hard to realize that customers aren't as passionate about it as you are.
  • He lives and breathes pantomime and every year puts heart and soul into his productions.

live and let live

proverb You should tolerate the opinions and behavior of others so that they will similarly tolerate your own.
Example sentences
  • Our father always taught us live and let live.
  • Whatever happened to the concept of live and let live?
  • Stating that she was devastated by the arson attack, she said that all she wanted to do was live and let live and she hoped that she could do that in a different part of the city.

live by one's wits

see wit1.

live dangerously

Do something risky, especially on a habitual basis.
Example sentences
  • Derby are still living dangerously, just four points ahead of third-bottom Manchester City, after losing 2-1 at home to Arsenal.
  • This is one girl who likes living dangerously.
  • And more and more Americans are living dangerously, moving to regions in this country highly vulnerable to natural disasters.

live for the moment

see moment.

live in hope

Be or remain optimistic about something.
Example sentences
  • We have been living in hope since she went missing and we were praying this was not Leanne.
  • His mother still lives in hope of one day finding out what became of her 11-year-old son.
  • However, one lives in hope that future years may actually witness some inspirational figures.

live in the past

Have old-fashioned or outdated ideas and attitudes.
Example sentences
  • Those who wish to live in the past and apply outdated labels to all Northern Ireland fans are the real bigots.
  • ‘I say to those who want to live in the past - you stay in the past, we are moving on,’ said Mr Duncan Smith.
  • Mrs Barnie continued: ‘I understand the parish council has their own rules, but I think they are living in the past.’
9.1Dwell on or reminisce at length about past events.
Example sentences
  • She needed to stop living in the past and stop wallowing in past sorrows.
  • Many people live in the past, over and over again, and they never catch up with the present.
  • Yet the greatest obstacles to achieving are a lack of self belief, living in the past and a desire to be perfect.

live in sin

see sin1.

live it up

informal Spend one’s time in an extremely enjoyable way, typically by spending a great deal of money or engaging in an exciting social life.
Example sentences
  • I feel like I should be living it up, having an exciting life.
  • They spent this week living it up in Cape Town instead of acclimatising to altitude.
  • They have lived it up and spent their way all throughout the eighties, never saving a dime.
live extravagantly, live in the lap of luxury, live in clover;
carouse, revel, enjoy oneself, have a good time, go on a spree
informal party, paint the town red, have a ball, live high on/off the hog
archaic wassail

live off (or on) the fat of the land

see fat.

live off the land

see land.

live out of a suitcase

Live or stay somewhere on a temporary basis and with only a limited selection of one’s belongings, typically because one’s occupation requires a great deal of traveling.
Example sentences
  • At the end of the season we normally have a holiday, but to be honest it would be nice to have two weeks where we weren't living out of a suitcase.
  • Her parents told her she had to think about buying a home instead of living out of a suitcase.
  • Michael is living out of a suitcase at the moment.

live one's own life

Follow one’s own plans and principles independent of others.
Example sentences
  • A good rule to follow is to live your own life and let others do likewise.
  • Just because you've hooked up with someone else doesn't mean you can't continue living your own life!
  • On the whole, people are happy to let you get on with living your own life.

live rough

Live and sleep outdoors as a consequence of having no proper home.
Example sentences
  • She says up to 1,000 children are now living rough, sleeping under hedges and bridges and begging to survive, many of them glue sniffing.
  • The new clinic is being built to aid the 500 homeless children living rough in the city.
  • While homelessness is increasing nationally, Waterford has only a handful of people living rough on the streets, according to a number of charitable agencies.

live to fight another day

Survive a particular experience or ordeal.
Example sentences
  • Hopefully the club itself will survive and live to fight another day.
  • If you are able to survive a bad or indifferent season, you live to fight another day.
  • The boxers' relatives and friends pay the admission fees, buy food and gym apparel, and the gym lives to fight another day.

live to regret something

Come to wish that one had not done something: those who put work before their family life often live to regret it
More example sentences
  • It was thoroughly distasteful and I bet he is living to regret it now.
  • Sadly, many women made the mistake of opting for the lower married woman's stamp and lived to regret it.
  • If we don't let the police do their job we may all live to regret it.

live to tell the tale

Survive a dangerous experience and be able to tell others about it.
Example sentences
  • Thankfully, people survive cancer and live to tell the tale.
  • There are not many who can say they lived through the reign of Queen Victoria, World War I, the 1916 rising, the War of Independence, World War II and Hiroshima and lived to tell the tale.
  • These days you're not a big wave surfer until you've climbed aboard a 60-footer and actually lived to tell the tale - which not everyone winds up doing.

live with oneself

Be able to retain one’s self-respect as a consequence of one’s actions: taking money from children—how can you live with yourself?
More example sentences
  • What the world at large deems success might not feel like success deep in your heart, and you need to be able to live with yourself.
  • I cringed through the entire twenty minutes, and I'm pretty sure the presenters are never going to be able to live with themselves, let alone admit to other people what they do for a living.
  • I didn't really feel I would be able to live with myself if I'd gone into that broadcast and said nothing because I was frightened to say what I believe in.

long live ——!

Said to express loyalty or support for a specified person or thing: long live the Queen!
More example sentences
  • Long live freedom - use your vote at the next Elections!
  • I just want to say, long live India and long live Indian cricket.
  • Industry is dead, long live the new information economy.

where one lives

North American informal At, to, or in the right, vital, or most vulnerable spot: it gets me where I live
More example sentences
  • Our readership as a whole is extremely important, and once in a great while a reader reaches out and touches me right where I live.
  • It is rare for me to encounter a criticism that hits me where I live.
  • The decisions we make on these issues are going to affect you where you live.

you haven't lived

Used, especially in spoken English, as a way of enthusiastically recommending something to someone who has not experienced it: you haven’t lived until you’ve tasted their lobster ravioli
More example sentences
  • You haven't lived until you've had Japanese Ice Cream!
  • I know that some people may find it hard to understand, but in my mind if you haven't been in a helicopter you haven't lived.
  • However, you haven't lived until you have witnessed the New Year firework displays that Disney produces.

you (or we) live and learn

Used, especially in spoken English, to acknowledge that a fact is new to one.
Example sentences
  • Answering the suggestion that he would have landed at least one of the penalties, he added ‘hindsight's a great thing… you live and learn’.
  • I don't know… you live and learn, maybe there are people who go around just assaulting young fellas.
  • There's a lot of things I wouldn't have done if I had to do it again, but you live and learn.

Phrasal verbs


live something down

Succeed in making others forget something embarrassing that has happened.
Example sentences
  • And yes, the situation is hilarious and I will never live it down… my sister won't let me forget!
  • One guy left his house keys in my bedroom one Christmas Eve and never lived it down since.
  • I was never, ever allowed to live the incident down by my housemates, who took great delight in reciting it to everyone who came round for the rest of the year.

live for

Regard as the purpose or most important aspect of one’s life: Tony lived for his painting
More example sentences
  • Far from living for technology, the corporate world now lives for finance.
  • It's a story about a man who hung out in the sewers for years living for opera.
  • He lived for his family. What has he got now?

live in

(Of an employee or student) reside at the place where one works or studies.
Example sentences
  • We always had two maids, one who lived in and one who came by the day to do the cleaning.
  • What will happen to the money gained from those living in this year will be decided at a later date.
  • During this time I was able to find out information about the dormitories here. They seemed very reasonable so I decided to live in.

live off (or on)

Depend on (someone or something) as a source of income or support: if you think you’re going to live off me for the rest of your life, you’re mistaken
More example sentences
  • Her days as a single mother living on income support must now seem like a distant memory.
  • In 1988, he was taken to court for rates still owed on his last pub and revealed that he was living on dole money.
  • It's tempting to spend all your money and live off the state, or simply emigrate.
4.1Have (a particular amount of money) with which to buy food and other necessities.
Example sentences
  • She told me the money she lives on isn't enough to cover the bills.
  • Some people are simply not earning enough money to live on and must make stark choices between eating or heating.
  • The scheme is administered by the health boards, who pay rent supplements to tenants living on low incomes in private rented accommodation, to help them with their weekly rent.
4.2Subsist on (a particular type of food).
Example sentences
  • For weeks they slept under banana trees and lived on scavenged food.
  • There is some debate as to whether early hominids were scavengers living off the remains of animals brought down and killed by other beasts, or whether these groups were hunters in their own right.
  • Maybe they caught fish, or perhaps lived on the animals on the mountain side.
subsist on, feed on/off, eat, consume
4.3(Of a person) eat, or seem to eat, only (a particular type of food): she used to live on bacon and tomato sandwiches
More example sentences
  • Some folks here at work tried low carb, living on bacon for several weeks.
  • Exclusive reliance on the car is the equivalent of living on fast food burgers - there should be no surprise if we get sick.
  • Being born and raised in California and living off of Mexican food was going to make my life a bit interesting over here.

live out

(Of an employee or student) reside away from the place where one works or studies.
Example sentences
  • I'm looking for a job as a housekeeper or nanny to live in or live out.
  • If you're in halls and you plan to live out next year, you should start looking in the February or March before.
  • Most students on four-year courses live out in their final year.

live something out

1Do in reality that which one has thought or dreamed about: your wedding day is the one time that you can live out your most romantic fantasies
More example sentences
  • She's living out her dream.
  • They can claim they are protecting the religion, when they are really living out their violent fantasies of revenge.
  • I'm sure they would've been a lot happier if they were living out their dream onstage with a decent performer.
2Spend the rest of one’s life in a particular place or particular circumstances: he lived out his days as a happy family man
More example sentences
  • I knew that the rest of my life would be lived out in group homes, or foster homes, or worse, staying at my grandmother's place.
  • We've always had itchy feet but I can see us living our days out in Turkey.
  • Down in Texas, at a shabby nursing home called Mud Creek Shady Rest, a fat wreck of a man is living out his final days.

live through

Survive (an unpleasant experience or period): both men lived through the Depression
More example sentences
  • A local historian talked to pupils about his experience of living through the Second World War.
  • Nobody has ever had the experience of living through this kind of hurricane, followed by this flood.
  • Each of these photographers comments on the experience of living through war.

live together

(Especially of a couple not married to each other) share a home and have a sexual relationship.
Example sentences
  • The couple was living together and the girl wanted to continue the relationship.
  • It's really important that couples living together get the legal protection they need.
  • The couple had been living together for three years and were planning to buy a house.

live up to

Fulfill (expectations).
Example sentences
  • When you have children, it becomes all about living up to their expectations.
  • Did they find the country lived up to their expectations?
  • When I was a kid, the circus never really lived up to my expectations.
9.1Fulfill (an undertaking): the president lived up to his promise to set America swiftly on a new path
More example sentences
  • He cites no international obligation that the U.S. has not lived up to.
  • Of the ones I know, or know of, there's about ten who have actually lived up to what they said they'd do.
  • He completed his Cabinet less than a month after he became president-elect and lived up to his diversity vow.

live with

1Share a home and have a sexual relationship with (someone to whom one is not married).
Example sentences
  • Barry knew of the relationship but continued to live with Amanda in the hope that the affair would end.
  • He married four times, and at one stage was living with one woman in London and another in the country, at weekends.
  • He said that he lived with his partner and her children, one of whom is disabled, and they treat him as their father.
2Accept or tolerate (something unpleasant): our marriage was a failure—you have to learn to live with that fact
More example sentences
  • It is a problem he has learned to live with and rugby and the exercise involved has helped him cope.
  • In the years since, Anne-Marie and her family have learned to live with epilepsy.
  • The people of Fulford need to accept that their properties are near a road and learn to live with the traffic.


Old English libban, lifian, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch leven and German leben, also to life and leave1.

  • In the sense ‘to be alive’, live goes back to the same root as life. The other live, with a different pronunciation, is a mid16th-century shortening of alive (Old English). The proverb live and let live is identified as Dutch in the earliest known reference, from 1622. Live and Let Die, the 1954 James Bond book, filmed in 1973, subverted it. The rhyme ‘He who fights and runs away / Lives to fight another day’ gives us the phrase live to fight another day. The idea is found in the works of the Greek comic playwright Menander, who lived from around 342 to 292 bc.

Words that rhyme with live

forgive, give, misgive, outlive, shiv, sieve, spiv, Viv alive, arrive, chive, Clive, connive, contrive, deprive, dive, drive, five, gyve, hive, I've, jive, MI5, revive, rive, shrive, skive, strive, survive, swive, thrive

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: live

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There are 2 main definitions of live in English:

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live 2

Pronunciation: /līv/


1Not dead or inanimate; living: live animals the number of live births and deaths
More example sentences
  • Is it better to be a live slave than a dead hero or heroine?
  • For example, a dead tree is not an eyesore, it's a home - there's more life in a dead tree than a live tree.
  • Several diseases cause rings of dead grass with live green grass in the center.
living, alive, having life, breathing, animate, sentient
1.1(Of a vaccine) containing viruses or bacteria that are living but of a mild or attenuated strain.
Example sentences
  • The six victims inoculated with the attenuated live virus vaccine developed symptoms similar to those of yellow fever.
  • These children show few adverse reactions to routine vaccinations, including live vaccines.
  • A live weakened virus vaccine is effective in preventing some of these diseases.
1.2(Of yogurt) containing the living microorganisms by which it is formed.
Example sentences
  • The labeling is voluntary, so a container of yogurt could have live cultures but not show the seal.
  • A plain live yoghurt with some added fresh fruit would be a better option.
2Relating to a musical performance given in concert, not on a recording: there is traditional live music played most nights a live album
More example sentences
  • Although she has a preference for live music and performance Caroline has a very successful recording career on the Scorpus label.
  • Though it took many years to establish the technique of sound on film, live music accompanied public performances.
  • Do you attach any importance to what the press say about your music and your live performances?
2.1(Of a broadcast) transmitted at the time of occurrence, not from a recording: live coverage of the match
More example sentences
  • Traditional broadcasters, with a live webcast of their output, were joined by new internet based stations.
  • It may not be very long before we will be able to watch anything via live webcast, though likely for a price.
  • Crowded round a radio listening to the live broadcast from Parliament, we all felt that a change was going to come, something old was dying.
in the flesh, personal, in person, not recorded
3(Of a wire or device) connected to a source of electric current.
Example sentences
  • He died as a live electric wire fell down into river.
  • Meanwhile, Antony, the thinker, had cleverly skewered a piece of Cheddar onto the end of a bare live electrical wire.
  • The base housed the live electrical wires.
electrified, charged, powered, active
informal hot
3.1Of, containing, or using undetonated explosive: live ammunition
More example sentences
  • Nothing replaces live training with live ammunition with the whole unit in the field.
  • The stove was located two rooms away from the ammunition room, which had plenty of live ammo.
  • A loaded Smith and Wesson revolver and four live rounds of ammunition were found hidden in a box under a bed.
unexploded, explosive, active;
unstable, volatile
3.2(Of coals) burning; glowing.
Example sentences
  • Nobody wished to retain money, everybody dropped it like a live coal.
  • A live coal from the altar has touched his lips, and they are purified.
  • The rice wine felt like live coal slipping down my throat.
hot, glowing, red hot, aglow;
burning, alight, flaming, aflame, blazing, ignited, on fire
literary afire
3.3(Of a match) unused.
Example sentences
  • The joss stick had been stuck in a box of live matches.
  • One Mum who was playing with live matches with her toddler daughter!
3.4(Of a wheel or axle in machinery) moving or imparting motion.
Example sentences
  • Well it's American and it's got a live axle so it's bound to be no good, right?
  • Most lay the blame for its lack of handling on the live rear axle.
3.5(Of a ball in a game) in play, especially in contrast to being foul or out of bounds.
Example sentences
  • Burress then picks up the ball and drops it again, and the Falcons proceed to pick up what should be a live ball.
  • Now for the coup de grace: a pair of Offaly hands would wrap themselves around the next live ball.
  • The ball becomes live when it leaves the referee's or umpire's hands on a jump ball.
4(Of a question or subject) of current or continuing interest and importance: the future organization of Europe has become a live issue
More example sentences
  • Here is a chance at least for the younger generation to make known its views on this live subject.
  • There is a question of trust and it is a live issue and we have to deal with it.
  • That is a live question because of the proposed abolition of the Compensation Court of New South Wales.


As or at an actual event or performance: the match will be televised live
More example sentences
  • Kian described it as the moment the band has all been waiting for, getting up on stage and performing live.
  • We just can't wait to be back on-stage performing live and especially at home in Ireland.
  • I also remember watching his resignation speech live, another great performance.


go live

Computing (Of a system) become operational.
Example sentences
  • The new Cambridge Journals Online system went live in October 2000.
  • The University of Liverpool today unveiled a new supercomputer cluster which is expected to be one of the World's 100 most powerful systems when it goes live next month.
  • After the system has gone live, the consultants continue to train the users while they're doing their jobs.


Mid 16th century: shortening of alive.

  • In the sense ‘to be alive’, live goes back to the same root as life. The other live, with a different pronunciation, is a mid16th-century shortening of alive (Old English). The proverb live and let live is identified as Dutch in the earliest known reference, from 1622. Live and Let Die, the 1954 James Bond book, filmed in 1973, subverted it. The rhyme ‘He who fights and runs away / Lives to fight another day’ gives us the phrase live to fight another day. The idea is found in the works of the Greek comic playwright Menander, who lived from around 342 to 292 bc.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: live

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