life S1 W1 /laɪf/ BrE AmE noun ( plural lives /laɪvz/)
[ Word Family: noun : ↑ life , ↑ lifelessness , ↑ lifer ; adjective : ↑ lifeless , ↑ lifelike , ↑ lifelong ; adverb : ↑ lifelessly ]
[ Language: Old English ; Origin: lif ]
1 . TIME SOMEBODY IS ALIVE [uncountable and countable] the period of time when someone is alive:
Learning goes on throughout life.
You have your whole life ahead of you.
in sb’s life
For the first time in my life I was happy.
I’ve never been so embarrassed in my life!
I’ve known John all my life (=since I was born) .
His main aim in life was to have fun.
It was one of the best days of my life.
The accident scarred him for life (=for the rest of his life) .
She knew she’d feel guilty for the rest of her life.
Raj spent his life caring for others.
Bonington spent his entire adult life in France.
We don’t know much about the poet’s early life (=when he was young) .
Poor diet can lead to a whole range of diseases in later life (=when you are older) .
She married late in life (=when she was fairly old) .
He’s a life member (=continuing until he dies) of the club.
2 . STATE OF BEING ALIVE [uncountable and countable] the state of being alive:
The right to life is the most basic of human rights.
Danny was a cheerful little boy who loved life.
Two firefighters risked their lives to save the children.
3 . WAY SOMEBODY LIVES [countable usually singular] the way you live your life, and what you do and experience during it
lead/live/have a ... life
The operation should enable Bobby to lead a normal life.
She just wanted to live a quiet life.
Having a baby changes your life completely.
The family moved to Australia to start a new life.
Ken’s whole life revolved around surfing (=that was the main interest and purpose of his life) .
You shouldn’t let your boyfriend rule your life (=control and affect everything you do) .
My grandmother had a hard life (=a life full of problems) .
She’s led a very sheltered life (=a life in which you have been protected from unpleasant things) .
a life of crime/poverty/misery etc
He had been drawn into a life of crime.
4 . PARTICULAR SITUATION/JOB [uncountable and countable]
a) the experiences, activities, and ways of living that are typical of being in a particular job, situation, society etc:
Why do so few women enter political life?
the British way of life
city/country/village etc life
Noise has become one of the main pollutants of modern city life.
army/student/college etc life
He missed the routine of army life.
Are you enjoying married life?
b) the time in your life when you are doing a particular job, are in a particular situation etc
sb’s life as something
Now a celebrity chef, he rarely talks about his life as an army cook.
Sara admits to having affairs throughout her married life.
Most of his working life was spent in the shipyards.
5 . social/personal/sex etc life the activities in your life relating to your friends, your family, sex etc:
I don’t need advice about my love life.
traditional views of family life
Children need a caring and happy home life.
6 . HUMAN EXISTENCE [uncountable] human existence, considered as a variety of experiences and activities:
My Aunt Julia had very little experience of life.
Life has a way of changing the best of plans.
For some people, religion gives life a meaning.
the frustrations and disappointments of everyday life
I try to see the funny side of life.
7 . TIME WHEN SOMETHING EXISTS/WORKS [countable usually singular]
a) the period of time during which something happens or exists
The issues will not be resolved during the life of the present parliament.
start/begin/come to life as something
The building began life as a monastery.
b) the period of time during which something is still good enough to use
What’s the average life of a passenger aircraft?
Careful use can extend the life of your washing machine.
⇨ ↑ shelf life
8 . LIVING THINGS [uncountable]
a) the quality of being alive that people, animals, plants etc have and that objects and dead things do not have:
Ben felt her neck for a pulse or any other sign of life.
In the springtime, everything comes to life again.
b) living things, such as people, animals, or plants:
Is there life on other planets?
human/animal/plant/bird etc life
The island is rich in bird life.
⇨ ↑ wildlife
9 . be sb’s (whole) life to be the most important thing or person to someone:
Music is Laura’s whole life.
10 . life and death ( also life or death ) used for emphasizing that a situation, decision etc is extremely urgent and important, especially because someone is at risk of dying:
Don’t call me unless it’s a matter of life and death.
a life or death decision
A doctor’s job involves life and death situations.
11 . GAME [countable] a chance in a game, especially a computer game, in which you can be defeated or do something wrong and can still continue playing:
He’s up to level five and still has three lives left.
12 . ACTIVITY [uncountable] activity or movement:
The house was quiet and there was no sign of life.
She was always so cheerful and full of life.
13 . INTEREST/EXCITEMENT [uncountable] a quality of being interesting or exciting:
Try to put some life into your writing.
The game really came to life after a magnificent goal from Rooney.
A gifted teacher can really bring literature to life for his or her students.
14 . come to life/roar into life/splutter into life etc to suddenly start working:
Finally the car spluttered into life.
15 . make life difficult/easier etc to make it difficult, easier etc to do something:
Surely computers are supposed to make life easier, not more complicated!
make life difficult/easier etc for
Why make life difficult for yourself?
16 . the life and soul of the party British English , the life of the party American English someone who enjoys social occasions and is fun and exciting to be with
17 . life and limb formal your life and physical health – used especially when this is threatened in some way:
She risks life and limb every day in her job as an undercover investigator.
18 . get a life! spoken used to tell someone that you think they are boring and should find more exciting things to do:
You guys should just stop moaning and get a life!
19 . that’s life ( also such is life ) spoken used to say that something is disappointing but you have to accept it:
Oh well, that’s life!
20 . life’s a bitch spoken not polite used to say that bad things happen in life
21 . this is the life spoken used when you are relaxing and doing something you enjoy:
Ah, this is the life! Lying on the beach, sipping cool drinks.
22 . the shock/surprise/game etc of sb’s life the biggest shock or surprise, the best game etc that someone has ever had:
I had the surprise of my life when I saw John standing there.
⇨ have the time of your life at ↑ time 1 (41)
23 . how’s life? spoken used to ask someone if they are well, what they have been doing etc:
Hi Bob! How’s life?
How’s life been with you?
24 . life goes on spoken used to say that you must continue to live a normal life even when something sad or disappointing has happened:
We both miss him, but life goes on.
25 . a life of its own
a) if something has a life of its own, it seems to move or work by itself:
The ball seemed to have acquired a life of its own.
b) if something has a life of its own, it exists and develops without depending on other things:
Slowly but surely, the project is taking on a life of its own.
26 . cannot for the life of me spoken used to say that you cannot remember or understand something even when you try hard:
I couldn’t for the life of me remember his name.
27 . life’s too short spoken used to say that you should not waste time doing something or worrying about something:
Forget about it. Life’s too short.
life’s too short for
Life’s too short for moping about.
life’s too short to do something
Life’s too short to bear grudges.
28 . not on your life spoken used as a reply to a question or suggestion to say that you definitely will not do something:
‘Are you going to go and work for him then?’ ‘Not on your life!’
29 . the woman/man/girl etc in your life the woman or man you are married to or are having a relationship with – used especially in advertisements:
This is the ideal gift for the man in your life.
30 . PRISON [uncountable] ( also life imprisonment ) the punishment of being put in prison for the rest of your life
be sentenced to/get/be given life
He was sentenced to life for the murder.
I think she should get life.
⇨ ↑ life sentence , ↑ lifer
31 . ART [uncountable] when you paint, draw etc something you are looking at, especially a person or animal:
She’s taking classes in life drawing.
⇨ ↑ still life
32 . frighten/scare the life out of somebody informal to make someone feel very frightened:
Don’t do that! You scared the life out of me!
33 . there’s life in the old dog yet spoken used to say that although someone or something is old, they are still able to do something – used humorously
34 . live/lead/have the life of Riley informal to have a very easy and comfortable life and not have to work hard:
He spends all day lounging by the pool and living the life of Riley.
35 . BOOK/FILM [uncountable] the story of someone’s life SYN biography :
Boswell’s ‘Life of Johnson’
36 . the next life ( also the life to come ), life after death the time after death, in which some people believe life continues in another form:
She expects to meet her dead husband in the next life.
⇨ as large as life at ↑ large 1 (7), ⇨ ↑ change of life , ⇨ for dear life at ↑ dear 3 (6), ⇨ ↑ double life , ⇨ high life at ↑ high 1 (22), ⇨ a new lease of life at ↑ lease 1 (2), ⇨ quality of life at ↑ quality 1 (5), ⇨ real life at ↑ real 1 (3), ⇨ ↑ real-life , ⇨ true to life at ↑ true 1 (9), ⇨ ↑ walk of life
• • •
COLLOCATIONS (for Meaning 2)
▪ save sb’s life
The money you give will save the life of a child.
▪ risk your life
He risked his life to help Jews during the Second World War.
▪ lose your life (=die)
Hundreds of people lost their lives on the first day of the fighting.
▪ take a/sb’s life (=kill someone)
All cultures consider it wrong to take a life for no reason.
▪ take your own life (=kill yourself)
He was depressed and decided to take his own life.
▪ claim the life of somebody (=kill someone – used of a thing)
The disease claimed the lives of up to a quarter of the population.
▪ cost lives/cost somebody their life (=result in deaths/in someone’s death)
That decision may have cost him his life.
▪ give your life/lay down your life (=die in order to save other people, or because of a strong belief)
These men gave their lives during the war to keep us free.
▪ endanger the life of somebody
They wanted to capture the gunman without endangering the lives of his hostages.
▪ spare sb’s life (=not kill someone, when you could kill them)
She begged him to spare the life of her son.
▪ be fighting for your life (=be so ill or injured that you might die)
One badly burned man was fighting for his life in hospital.
▪ cling to life (=try to stay alive, even though you are very ill or injured)
She clung to life, despite the pain.
▪ owe your life to somebody (=be still alive because of someone’s actions)
The victim said he owed his life to the stranger who helped him.
▪ take your life in your hands (=put yourself in a dangerous situation)
Just crossing this road is taking your life in your hands.
■ COMMON ERRORS
► Do not say ' the cost of life '. Say the cost of living .