Meaning of LIFE in English


/ laɪf; NAmE / noun

( pl. lives / laɪvz; NAmE /)



[ U ] the ability to breathe, grow, reproduce, etc. which people, animals and plants have before they die and which objects do not have :

life and death

The body was cold and showed no signs of life .

My father died last year—I wish I could bring him back to life .

In spring the countryside bursts into life.


[ U , C ] the state of being alive as a human; an individual person's existence :

The floods caused a massive loss of life (= many people were killed) .

He risked his life to save his daughter from the fire.

Hundreds of lives were threatened when the building collapsed.

The operation saved her life .

My grandfather lost his life (= was killed) in the war.

Several attempts have been made on the President's life (= several people have tried to kill him) .



[ U ] living things :

plant / animal life

marine / pond life

Is there intelligent life on other planets?



[ C , U ] the period between sb's birth and their death; a part of this period :

He's lived here all his life .

I've lived in England for most of my life.

to have a long / short life

He became very weak towards the end of his life.

Brenda took up tennis late in life .

He will spend the rest of his life (= until he dies) in a wheelchair.

There's no such thing as a job for life any longer.

She is a life member of the club.

in early / adult life

—see also change of life


[ C ] (used with an adjective) a period of sb's life when they are in a particular situation or job :

She has been an accountant all her working life .

He met a lot of interesting people during his life as a student.

They were very happy throughout their married life .


[ C ] the period of time when sth exists or functions :

The International Stock Exchange started life as a London coffee shop.

They could see that the company had a limited life (= it was going to close) .

In Italy the average life of a government is eleven months.

—see also shelf life



[ U ] the punishment of being sent to prison for life; life imprisonment :

The judge gave him life .



[ U ] the experience and activities that are typical of all people's existences :

the worries of everyday life

He is young and has little experience of life .

Commuting is a part of daily life for many people.

Jill wants to travel and see life for herself.

We bought a dishwasher to make life easier .

In Africa life can be hard.

In real life (= when she met him) he wasn't how she had imagined him at all.

Life isn't like in the movies, you know.


[ U , C ] the activities and experiences that are typical of a particular way of living :

country / city life

She enjoyed political life.

family / married life

How do you find life in Japan?


[ C ] a person's experiences during their life; the activities that form a particular part of a person's life :

He has had a good life .

a hard / an easy life

My day-to-day life is not very exciting.

a life of luxury

Her daily life involved meeting lots of people.

Many of these children have led very sheltered lives (= they have not had many different experiences) .

They emigrated to start a new life in Canada.

He doesn't like to talk about his private life .

She has a full social life .

articles about the love lives of the stars

—see also sex life



[ U ] the quality of being active and exciting

SYN vitality :

This is a great holiday resort that is full of life .



[ U ] a living model or a real object or scene that people draw or paint :

She had lessons in drawing from life.

a life class (= one in which art students draw a naked man or woman)

—see also still life



[ C ] a story of sb's life

SYN biography :

She wrote a life of Mozart.



[ C ] one of a set number of chances before a player is out of a game :

He's lost two lives, so he's only got one left.


- be sb's life

- bring sb/sth to life

- come to life

- for dear life | for your life

- for the life of you

- frighten / scare the life out of sb

- full of beans / life

- get a life

- lay down your life (for sb/sth)

- life after death

- the life and soul of the party, etc.

- life is cheap

- (have) a life of its own

- life's too short

- make life difficult (for sb)

- the man / woman in your life

- not on your life

- take sb's life

- take your (own) life

- take your life in your hands

- that's life

- where there's life (, there's hope)

—more at bet verb , breath , breathe , change noun , depart , dog noun , end verb , fact , fear noun , fight verb , inch noun , kiss noun , large , lease , light noun , matter noun , misery , nine , risk verb , save verb , slice noun , spring verb , staff noun , story , time noun , true adjective , variety , walk noun , way noun



Old English līf , of Germanic origin; related to Dutch lijf , German Leib body, also to live (I).

Oxford Advanced Learner's English Dictionary.      Оксфордский английский словарь для изучающик язык на продвинутом уровне.