n. (pl. lives)
1. the condition which distinguishes active animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.
2 a living things and their activity (insect life; is there life on Mars?). b human presence or activity (no sign of life).
3 a the period during which life lasts, or the period from birth to the present time or from the present time to death (have done it all my life; will regret it all my life; life membership). b the duration of a thing's existence or of its ability to function; validity, efficacy, etc. (the battery has a life of two years).
4 a a person's state of existence as a living individual (sacrificed their lives; took many lives). b a living person (many lives were lost).
5 a an individual's occupation, actions, or fortunes; the manner of one's existence (that would make life easy; start a new life). b a particular aspect of this (love-life; private life).
6 the active part of existence; the business and pleasures of the world (travel is the best way to see life).
7 man's earthly or supposed future existence.
8 a energy, liveliness, animation (full of life; put some life into it!). b an animating influence (was the life of the party).
9 the living, esp. nude, form or model (taken from the life).
10 a written account of a person's life; a biography.
11 colloq. a sentence of imprisonment for life (they were all serving life).
12 a chance; a fresh start (cats have nine lives; gave the player three lives).
Phrases and idioms:
come to life 1 emerge from unconsciousness or inactivity; begin operating.
2 (of an inanimate object) assume an imaginary animation. for dear (or one's) life as if or in order to escape death; as a matter of extreme urgency (hanging on for dear life; run for your life). for life for the rest of one's life. for the life of (foll. by pers. pron.) even if (one's) life depended on it (cannot for the life of me remember).
give one's life
1. (foll. by for) die; sacrifice oneself.
2 (foll. by to) dedicate oneself. large as life colloq. in person, esp. prominently (stood there large as life).
larger than life
2 (of a person) having an exuberant personality. life-and-death vitally important; desperate (a life-and-death struggle). life cycle the series of changes in the life of an organism including reproduction. life expectancy the average period that a person at a specified age may expect to live. life-force inspiration or a driving force or influence. life-form an organism. life-giving that sustains life or uplifts and revitalizes. Life Guards (in the UK) a regiment of the royal household cavalry. life history the story of a person's life, esp. told at tedious length. life insurance insurance for a sum to be paid on the death of the insured person. life-jacket a buoyant or inflatable jacket for keeping a person afloat in water. life peer Brit. a peer whose title lapses on death.
1. a short stick with a heavily loaded end.
2 a life-jacket etc. life-raft an inflatable or timber etc. raft for use in an emergency instead of a boat.
1. a thing that saves one from serious difficulty.
2 Austral. & NZ LIFEGUARD. life sciences biology and related subjects.
1. a sentence of imprisonment for life.
2 an illness or commitment etc. perceived as a continuing threat to one's freedom. life-size (or -sized) of the same size as the person or thing represented. life-support adj. (of equipment) allowing vital functions to continue in an adverse environment or during severe disablement. life-support machine Med. a ventilator or respirator. life's-work a task etc. pursued throughout one's lifetime. lose one's life be killed. a matter of life and death a matter of vital importance. not on your life colloq. most certainly not.
save a person's life
1. prevent a person's death.
2 save a person from serious difficulty. take one's life in one's hands take a crucial personal risk. to the life true to the original.
Etymology: OE lif f. Gmc