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Life (plural lives)
  1. The state that follows birth, and precedes death; the state of being alive and living.
    He gave up on life.
    Having experienced both, the vampire decided that he preferred (un)death to life.
  2. The period during which one (a person, an animal, a plant, a star) is alive.
    • 1916, Ezra Meeker, The Busy Life of Eighty-Five Years of Ezra Meeker
  3. The span of time during which an object operates.
    This light bulb is designed to have a life of 2,000 hours.
  4. The period of time during which an object is recognizable.
    The life of this milk carton may be thousands of years in this landfill.
  5. (biology) A status given to any entity including animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, etc. — and sometimes viruses — having the properties of replication and metabolism.
  6. (philosophy) The essence of the manifestation and the foundation of the being.
    • 1918, Edgar Rice Burroughs , The Land That Time Forgot 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.
  7. (phenomenology) the subjective and inner manifestation of the individual.
  8. The world in general; existence.
    Man's life on this planet has been marked by continual conflict.
  9. 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!
  10. (usually of a person) The most worthwhile component or participant
    • 1970 Mathuram Bhoothalingam, The finger on the lute: the story of Mahakavi Subramania Bharati, National Council of Educational Research and Training, p87
      "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, p32
      And he is the life of the party at the Musgroves for precisely this reason: the navy has made him into a great storyteller.
  11. A biography.
    His life of the founder is finished, except for the title.
  12. Something which is inherently part of a person's existence, such as job, family, a loved one, etc.
    She's my love, my life.
  13. (colloquial) A life sentence; a term of imprisonment of a convict until his or her death.
  14. (video games) One of the player's chances to play, lost when a mistake is made.
    Scoring 1000 points is rewarded with an extra life.


  • (philosophy, essence of manifestation and foundation of being): 1994: Violet Quill, Robert Ferro:
    Most things in life, including life itself, seemed to have articulated sections, discrete and separate and straightforward.


  • (philosophy, essence of manifestation and foundation of being): existence, experience
  • (the world in general): time


  • (the state that precedes death): death
  • (biology): coma
  • (philosophy): void

Derived terms

Related terms

Adjectives for Life

abhorred; abject; abnormal; abstract; aboriginal; abundant; academic; active; action-craving; affluent; agonized; agreeable; agricultural; all-embracing; altruistic; amazing; ambrosial; angelic; antecedent; antenatal; artificial; ascetic; astonished; austere; bad; beneficent; benevolent; blameless; blithe; blooming; boulevard; bountiful; bright-eyed; broad; broken; brute; bubbling; buoyant; busy; bygone; birdcage; cankerous; carefree; careful; changing; charmed; civic; civilized; cloistral; cold-blooded; collective; college; colorful; commercial; commonplace; communal; concentrated; consistent; constant; contemplative; contemporary; contemptuous; convenient; convulsive; cordial; corporate; cosmic; country; crescent; cruel; crystal; cultivated; cultured; darkened; darkling; darting; deadening; decorous; deep-bosomed; defaced; delightful; democratic; demonstrable; deplorable; desultory; devouring; diffusive; diminished; diplomatic; disastrous; discontented; disfigured; dishonored; disjointed; disposed; dissipated; dissolute; distasteful; distracted; dividing; double; domestic; doubtful; dull; dusky; dutiful; easygoing; eccentric; economic; effete; effective; effeminate; elemental; emancipated; embittered; emotional; enlarging; ennobling; ephemeral; equal; erotic; equivocal; essential; eternal; eventful; existing; exotic; expanding; external; extinguished; exuberant; exultant; factitious; familiar; farcical; farmyard; fascinating; fashionable; fast-fleeing; fast-withering; fettered; feudal; feverish; fictionized; flabby; flickering; floating; flourishing; foreign; fragrant; free; friendless; frisking; frivolous; frugal; fruitful; fugitive; fullest; genuine; gushing; grimy; groovelike; gypsy; half-revealed; hapless; hard-working; harmless; healthful; helpful; hideous; hoary; high-pressure; homely; honest; human; humdrum; hygienic; ideal; idyllic; imagined; imaginative; immortal; impatient; impeccable; imperfeet; imperiled; imperishable; impish; Incarnate; increasing; independent; individual; indulgent; industrious; infantile; informal; inglorious; inherent; inner; innermost; insect; unsociable; integrated; intellectual; intense; interior; intimate; irre¬sponsible; irregular; joyless; kindly; knowable; laborious; large; licentious; lifeless; liquid; listless; literary; livable; loathed; long; low; lush; lusterless; luxurious; magnanimous; many-sided; married; material; maximum; meditative; melancholy; mental; meteoric; middle-married; milder; millennial; mingled; mirthful; miserable; modest; monastic; monotonous; moral; mortal; moving; multitudinous (pi); mythological; nam¬by-pamby; nervous; nobler; nomadic; objectless; obscure; old-maidish; ordinary; orgiastic; outer; out-of-town; outside; paltry; palpitating; pampered; parasitic; parental; peaceful; perilous; permeating; perverted; phenomenal; pioneer; plausible; pleasant; plenteous; practical; precarious; prevailing; priceless; private; progressive; prosperous; prosaic; provincial; prudent; pseudo-social; psychical; public; pulsating; pulseless; pure; quickening; radical; rampant; realistic; redundant; regular; rejuvenated; reproductive; renovated; restive; restless; retired; revolutionary; rhythmical; rollicking; rough; roving; ruddy; rural; sacred; sacrificial; scandalous; scanty; secluded; secret; secular; sedentary; sensuous; sequestered; serene; sheltered; shifting; shudderable; simpering; simple; singing; single; skilful; sky-wedded; sleeping; slow-moving; sluggish; smiling; smug; snug; sobered; social; solitary; sophisticated; spiritual; spontaneous; sportive; starved; steady; sterile; stimulating; straggling; strenuous; studious; subsequent; sunless; sunlit; supersensual; sustaining; sweet; swinish; tangled; temperate; tempestuous; tender; terrestrial; thin-spun; thoughtless; thwarted; toilsome; torpid; tortured; tragic; tramping; tree; trite; troubled; tumultuous; turbulent; tyrant; unambitious; unassuming; unbearable; unceasing; unchanging; unconventional; uncircumscribed; undeniable; unendurable; undistinguished; uneventful; unjaded; unprofitable; unprosperous; unrealized; unresisting; unsatisfactory; unseen; unseparable; unsettled; unsightly; unsophisticated; unstable; upright; useful; urban; various (pi); vagrant; vicious; veritable; vigorous; Vile; virtuous; wagering; wandering; warm; wasted; wayside; wayward; well-lost; wholesome; wild; winged; wistful; womanly; wonted; workless; worldly; worthless; worthy; wretched; youthful; action-filled; adequate; adventurous.

Verbs for Life

abbreviate—; alter—; bare—of; beautify —; blight—; blot out—; burst into—; carve —; challenge—; cling to—; commence—; comprehend—; conceive—; consecrate—to; cope with—; dedicate—to; degrade—; delve into—; depict—; deplete—; detach from—; devote—to; devour—; disorganize—; dissipate—; diversify—; drag out—; drain of—; embitter—; endanger—; endow with —; enhance—; ennoble—; equip for—; erase—; exemplify—; face—; flash into—; flinch from—; foreshorten—; foster—; fritter—away; galvanize into—; gamble— on; immerse in—; insulate against—; inter¬cede for—; interpret—; intrude upon—; invade—; isolate—; jeopardize—; maim—; maintain—; manifest—; mar—; mend—; mock—; mold—; muddle through—; nourish—; oppress by—; pay with—; permeate —; plunge into—; portray—; probe—; prolong—; race through—; radiate—; rebuild —; reconstruct—; rekindle—; resuscitate —; retire from—; revel in—; routinize— shock into—; skim through—; snuff out—' squander—; stake—on; submerge—; sum —; sustain—; taste—; terminate—; thirst for—; tranquilize—; trifle away—; uplift —; vitiate—; warp—; weigh—; —blossoms; —buzzes by; —disintegrates; —ebbs; —evolves; —flowers; —flows; —hangs; — —s intertwine; —persists; —pulsates; — quickens; —rallies; —surges; —trudges on; —unfolds; —withers.


Adamite, Clio, Muse of history, activator, activity, adventures, affairs, age, alacrity, an existence, animal spirits, animation, animator, annals, anxiety, anxiousness, appetite, ardor, arouser, autobiography, avidity, avidness, being, biographical sketch, biography, body, bounce, breathless impatience, breeziness, brio, briskness, bubbliness, capersomeness, case history, cat, chap, character, cheerful readiness, chronicle, chronicles, chronology, circumstances, coltishness, compulsion, concerns, condition of things, conditions, confessions, creature, critter, curriculum vitae, customer, dash, dazzle, dealings, diary, doings, duck, duration, eagerness, earthling, ebullience, effervescence, elan, elan vital, elasticity, energizer, energy, ens, entelechy, enthusiasm, entity, esprit, esse, essence, existence, experiences, exuberance, fellow, fixation, flair, flavor, fortunes, forwardness, freshness, friskiness, frolicsomeness, gaiety, gamesomeness, gayness, generation, get-up-and-go, glow, goings-on, groundling, gust, gusto, guy, hagiography, hagiology, hand, head, heartiness, historiography, history, homo, human, human being, human dynamo, impatience, impetuosity, impetus, individual, joie de vivre, joker, journal, keen desire, keenness, legend, life and letters, life story, lifeblood, lifetime, liveliness, living, living soul, lustiness, man, march of events, martyrology, materiality, matters, memoir, memoirs, memorabilia, memorial, memorials, mettle, monad, mortal, motivating force, motive power, moving spirit, moxie, necrology, nose, obituary, object, obsession, occurrence, one, oomph, organism, party, passion, pep, peppiness, period of existence, perkiness, person, persona, personage, personality, pertness, photobiography, piss and vinegar, pizzazz, playfulness, preoccupation, presence, proceedings, profile, promptness, pungency, quickness, readiness, record, relations, resilience, restorative, resume, robustness, rollicksomeness, rompishness, run of things, sentience, single, skittishness, somebody, someone, something, soul, spark of life, spark plug, sparkle, spirit, spiritedness, spirits, sportiveness, sprightliness, spring, state of affairs, stimulant, stimulator, stimulus, story, subsistence, substantiality, survival, sustenance, tellurian, terran, the times, the world, theory of history, thing, time, tonic, unit, verve, viability, vigor, vim, vital spark, vitality, vivaciousness, vivacity, warmth, way of life, what happens, worldling, zest, zestfulness, zing, zip


Old English līf, from Proto-Germanic *līban, from Proto-Indo-European *lībʰ-. Cognate with Dutch lijf (body), German Leib (body), Swedish liv (waist, life).



The translations below need to be checked.

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