see also: Life
Pronunciation Noun

life (uncountable)

  1. (uncountable) The state of organisms preceding their death, characterized by biological processes such as metabolism and reproduction and distinguishing them from inanimate objects; the state of being alive and living.
    Having experienced both, the vampire decided that he preferred (un)death to life.  He gave up on life.
    1. (biology) The status possessed by any of a number of entities, including animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, and sometimes viruses, which have the properties of replication and metabolism.
  2. The animating principle or force that keeps an inorganic thing or concept metaphorically alive (dynamic, relevant, etc) and makes it a "living document", "living constitution", etc.
    • The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.
  3. Lifeforms, generally or collectively.
    It's life, but not as we know it.   She discovered plant life on the planet.   The rover discovered signs of life on the alien world.
  4. (countable) A living individual; the fact of a particular individual being alive. (Chiefly when indicating individuals were lost (died) or saved.)
    Many lives were lost during the war.   Her quick thinking saved many dogs' lives.
  5. Existence.
    Man's life on this planet has been marked by continual conflict.   the eternal life of the soul
    • 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Land That Time Forgot (novel), Chapter VI:
      " […] I realize as never before how cheap and valueless a thing is life. Life seems a joke, a cruel, grim joke. You are a laughable incident or a terrifying one as you happen to be less powerful or more powerful than some other form of life which crosses your path; but as a rule you are of no moment whatsoever to anything but yourself. You are a comic little figure, hopping from the cradle to the grave. Yes, that is our trouble—we take ourselves too seriously; but Caprona should be a sure cure for that." She paused and laughed.
    • 1994, Violet Quill, Robert Ferro
      Most things in life, including life itself, seemed to have articulated sections, discrete and separate and straightforward.
    1. A worthwhile existence.
      He gets up early in the morning, works all day long — even on weekends — and hardly sees his family. That's no life!  His life was ruined by drugs.
    2. A particular aspect of existence.
      He struggled to balance his family life, social life and work life.   sex life, political life
    3. (informal) Social life.
      Get a life.
      • 1915, G[eorge] A. Birmingham [pseudonym; James Owen Hannay], chapter I, in Gossamer, New York, N.Y.: George H. Doran Company, OCLC 5661828 ↗, page 01 ↗:
        It is never possible to settle down to the ordinary routine of life at sea until the screw begins to revolve. There is an hour or two, after the passengers have embarked, which is disquieting and fussy.
    4. Something which is inherently part of a person's existence, such as job, family, a loved one, etc.
      She's my love, my life.   Running the bakery is her life.
  6. A period of time during which something has existence.
    1. The period during which one (a person, an animal, a plant; a civilization, species; a star; etc) is alive.
      This light bulb is designed to have a life of 2,000 hours.
      • 1908, W[illiam] B[lair] M[orton] Ferguson, chapter IV, in Zollenstein, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 731476803 ↗:
        “My Continental prominence is improving,” I commented dryly. ¶ Von Lindowe cut at a furze bush with his silver-mounted rattan. ¶ “Quite so,” he said as dryly, his hand at his mustache. “I may say if your intentions were known your life would not be worth a curse.”
      • 1916, Ezra Meeker, The Busy Life of Eighty-Five Years of Ezra Meeker
    2. The span of time during which an object operates.
      • 2016, Christine Barbour, Gerald C. Wright, Keeping the Republic (ISBN 1506365566):
        Even if the bill's life is brief, the member who introduced it can still campaign as its champion.
    3. The period of time during which an object is recognizable.
      The life of this milk carton may be thousands of years in this landfill.
    4. A particular phase or period of existence.
      • 2011, Ehud Lamm, Ron Unger, Biological Computation (ISBN 1420087967), page 90
        This would require that reproductive cells do not exist early on but rather are produced during the organism's adult life from the gemules sent from the various organs.
    5. A period extending from a when a (positive or negative) office, punishment, etc is conferred on someone until that person dies (or, sometimes, reaches retirement age).
      • 2001, Cynthia L. Cates, Wayne V. McIntosh, Law and the Web of Society (ISBN 1589013573), page 73:
        Typically, an appointed judge is appointed for life.
      • 2013, Mahendra P. Singh, German Administrative Law (ISBN 3662024578), page 108:
        As a general rule the judges of the administrative courts are appointed for life, i.e., they continue in their office till the completion of sixty-eight years in the Federal Administrative Court[.]
      1. (colloquial) A life sentence; a period of imprisonment that lasts until the convict's death (or, sometimes, parole).
  7. Animation; spirit; vivacity.
    • No notion of life and fire in fancy and in words.
    • That gives thy gestures grace and life.
    1. The most lively component or participant.
      • 1970, Mathuram Bhoothalingam, The finger on the lute: the story of Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, National Council of Educational Research and Training, p.87:
        "Don't I know that it is you who is the life of this house. Two delightful children!"
      • 1998, Monica F. Cohen, Professional domesticity in the Victorian novel: Women, work and home, Cambridge University Press, page 32:
        And he is the life of the party at the Musgroves for precisely this reason: the navy has made him into a great storyteller.
  8. A biography.
    His life of the founder is finished, except for the title.
    • Writers of particular lives […] are apt to be prejudiced in favour of their subject.
  9. Nature, reality, and the forms that exist in it.
    • 2010, Brad Steiger, Real Monsters, Gruesome Critters, and Beasts from the Darkside (ISBN 1578593476):
      The experts also agree that the bushmen only painted from life. This belief is borne out by the other Gorozamzi Hills cave paintings, which represent elephants, hippos, deer, and giraffe.
  10. An opportunity for existence.
    • 2012, Cindy Champnella, The 12 Gifts of Life (ISBN 1620200481):
      The photo book represented my promise to her—a new life—and she desperately clung to that promise.
    1. (video games) One of the player's chances to play, lost when the player's character dies or when certain mistakes are made.
      Scoring 1000 points is rewarded with an extra life.
      • 1988, David Powell, Rygar (video game review) in Your Sinclair issue 25
        Spend the time killing things and there's a bonus for each hit - but only for fatalities notched up since the start of your current life.
    2. (baseball, softball, cricket) A chance for the batter (or batting team) to bat again, given as a result of an misplay by a member of the fielding team. [from the 1860s through at least the 1930s]
      • 1915 June 24, Philadelphians on the Diamond, in The New York Lumber Trade Journal, volume 59, oage 42:
        Borda sent a hot liner to G. Kugler, who made a nifty pick-up, but threw wild at first, giving the batter a life.
      • 1930 May, Boys' Life, page 49:
        But shortstop Tenney, on what should have been the game's last out, gave a First Team batter a life on first, when he let a ground ball slip between his legs.
    3. One of a player's chances to play in various children's playground games, lost when a mistake is made, for example being struck by the ball in dodgeball.
  11. (uncountable, insurance) The life insurance industry.
    I work in life.
  12. (countable) A life assured under a life assurance policy (equivalent to the policy itself for a single life contract).
Synonyms Antonyms
  • (the state that precedes death) death
  • (biology) coma
  • (philosophy) void
  1. (obsolete) Synonym of God's life (“an oath”)

Proper noun
  1. (Christian Science) God.

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