• enPR: dĕth, IPA: /dɛθ/
  • (West Country) IPA: /diːθ/


  1. The cessation of life and all associated processes; the end of an organism's existence as an entity independent from its environment and its return to an inert, nonliving state.
    The death of my grandmother saddened the whole family.
    • 1879, R[ichard] J[efferies], chapter 1, in The Amateur Poacher, London: Smith, Elder, & Co., […], OCLC 752825175 ↗:
      They burned the old gun that used to stand in the dark corner up in the garret, close to the stuffed fox that always grinned so fiercely. Perhaps the reason why he seemed in such a ghastly rage was that he did not come by his death fairly. Otherwise his pelt would not have been so perfect. And why else was he put away up there out of sight?—and so magnificent a brush as he had too. […].
  2. (often, capitalized) The personification of death as a hooded figure with a scythe; the Grim Reaper. The pronoun he is not the only option, but probably the most traditional one, as it matches with the male grammatical gender of Old English dēaþ, also with cognate German der Tod. The fourth apocalyptic rider (Bible, revelations 6:8) is male θᾰ́νᾰτος (thanatos) in Greek. It has the female name Mors in Latin, but is referred to with male forms qui and eum. The following quotes show this rider on a pale horse is his in the English Bible and she in Peter Gabriel's lyrics.
    When death walked in, a chill spread through the room.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, […] (King James Version), imprinted at London: By Robert Barker, […], OCLC 964384981 ↗, Revelation 6:8 ↗:
      And I looked, and behold, a pale horse, & his name that sat on him was Death"
    • 1762, [Laurence Sterne], chapter IX, in The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, volume V, London: Printed for T. Becket and P. A. Dehondt, […], OCLC 959921544 ↗, page 51 ↗:
      but thoſe, Jonathan, who know what death is, and what havock and deſtruction he can make ,
  3. (the death) The collapse or end of something.
    England scored a goal at the death to even the score at one all.  death of the feudalism
    1. (figuratively, esp. followed by of-phrase) A cause of great stress, exhaustion, embarrassment, or another negative condition (for someone).
      This bake sale is going to be the death of me!
  4. (figurative) Spiritual lifelessness.
Synonyms Translations Translations Translations
  • French: la mort, l'arcane sans nom
  • German: der Tod
  • Italian: la morte, l'arcano senza nome
  • Portuguese: Morte, arcano sem nome
  • Spanish: la muerte, el arcano de la muerte
Proper noun
  1. The personification of death, often a skeleton with a scythe, and one of the four horsemen of the apocalypse.
    Synonyms: the angel of death, Azrael, the Grim Reaper, the reaper, the pale rider, the rider, psychopomp, Santa Muerte, the Shinigami
    Death can be seen on a tarot card.
    • 1843 December 18, Charles Dickens, “Stave Four. The Last of the Spirits.”, in A Christmas Carol. In Prose. Being a Ghost Story of Christmas, London: Chapman & Hall, […], OCLC 55746801 ↗, page 137 ↗:
      Oh cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine altar here, and dress it with such terrors as thou hast at thy command: for this is thy dominion!

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